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Thought Control (Censorship, Foucault & Liberalism)

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This notice was posted on 19:31, 25 November 2006 (UTC).

Secular French post-modern philosopher Michel Foucault, not a religious believer and even a practicing homosexual, nonetheless questioned rigorously the supposed "objectivity" upon which modern Western Liberal societies are now built.

In my brief foray into the Wikia campaigns, I was saddened at the attempts by many to impose an apparent "objectivity" (by force if necessary) over an over-lapping set of complex political viewpoints arising from an equally complex set of underlying and over-arching worldviews.

What constitutes "normativity"? As Foucault questioned regarding sexuality, is heterosexuality normative, and if so why? Is homosexuality normative, especially if the ancient Greek philosophers seemed to welcome it? Whose reigning sets of institutions, social and more importantly academic, will define what is normative? What happens with groups, like Muslems and Jews living in France in 2006, who, for the sake of a secular normativity, are denied of religious liberties such as not being allowed to wear religious headware in public? Is the secular view normative? Is the Jewish view? Is the Islamic view? Who decides?

Here is the problem that Wikia Campaigns will now confront. Any public forum wishing to remain credible will not seek to silence or eliminate voices that the forum's moderators happen to be in disagreement with. Granted, Wikia Campaigns will seek to be objective, but in seeking objectivity, as Foucault would rightly question, whose sets of knowledges, whose protocol, and by whose authority would one define such objectivity? Simply claiming academic or professional standing, although a move with obvious merit (i.e. it is more difficult to obtain entrance into schools such as Harvard, Duke, etc.), nonetheless does not solve the issue. Pro-abortionists have ethicists teaching at Princeton. Pro-lifers have ethicists also teaching at Princeton. Which Ivy League ethicist are we supposed to view as authoritative?

Because of the incommensurability (to use moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre's terminology) of current Western European, N. American and the elite world moral debates (e.g. pro-life vs. pro-abortion), in order that no perspective be silenced, a quick and easy antidote is for Wikia Campaigns to adopt a type of "Social Contract" (e.g. as described by Rousseau) so that every participant in Wikia Campaigns will agree to a mutually binding, mutually determined set of normative rules, policies and procedures. One example could be rules and standards that would govern the giving of academic lectures--i.e. a formal statement followed by short, pre-determined lengths of responses, without editting for content or even tone (e.g. many academic debates can become quite heated, even in the elite academic institutions of the United States such as Duke or Notre Dame). The pre-determined length will allow short, well-written, non-caustic responses, in short, similar to a televised political debate.

Only through adopting a mutually-binding, mutually-determined social contractarian form of on-line communication can the attempts at "knowledge control," as described by Foucault and others, be avoided.

Commentary by User:RobJKing

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