I was looking around the website of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona, with which many of the BHL bloggers have been affiliated in one way or another. I ran across a page I hadn’t noticed before, with a mission statement that seems to me worthy of widespread emulation. (The statement has the very strong ring of David Schmidtz to it, but I don’t know for sure whether he wrote it.)
Core Intellectual Values
These are core values that we will not compromise.
We aim to stand up from our desks at the end of every day knowing something that we did not know when we sat down that morning. We do not teach from old lecture notes. With our students we will share what we know, along with our uncertainties & struggles. Our students will know the joy & trepidation of exploring the intellectual frontier.
We are in the business of theorizing, but when we theorize, we draw maps whose worth stands or falls with their accuracy in representing reality. We draw distinctions not to obscure differences but to sort them out. When we make empirical claims, we back them up not by turning them into empty tautologies but by offering the kind of data that are relevant to the testing of scientific hypotheses. In short, if your definition makes it unnecessary to check the facts, then you need to check your definition.
We realize that if you want to maintain your passion for work, & want people to be better off for having read your work, or for having been your student, you have to stand for something. But whatever you stand for, you have to stand for honest scholarship first. Truth comes first. If and when the truth turns out incompatible with our beliefs, we change our beliefs.
We will not demonize those who disagree with us. Our engagements will be constructive.
A blog is something different from an academic research and teaching school, and different norms apply in different settings– but these seem to me very attractive norms and ones to aspire to live up to, in university and non-university settings alike.