Letter of Protest Concerning the Treatment of Hungarian Philosophers*
In the last six months a number of questionable actions have been taken against philosophers and other academics in Hungary. These actions include dismissals of philosophers from the Philosophy Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the rating of 15 of 23 colleagues affiliated with the Academy as “professionally unqualified.” This same designation has been extended to others who have earned the level of Habilitation. During the same period, charges have been brought against a number of philosophers -- including Agnes Heller, distinguished professor emerita from the New School for Social Research – regarding the alleged misuse of grant money: charges we find to be highly unlikely and regarding which much more detailed documentation is required. Another philosopher, Mihály Vajda, has been charged with the misallocation of grant money to his daughter – whereas in fact she employed this properly obtained money to pursue a significant study of public opinion concerning the Holocaust. We consider these various moves to be questionable in view of the likelihood of political motivation on the part of the ruling Fidesz party. They are in flagrant violation of the principle of academic freedom. Still more seriously, they reflect an unjustified persecution of philosophers and other scholars and teachers. We protest these actions and call upon the Republic of Hungary to live up to the standards of justice and equity to which its own constitution is committed.
Those who sign below include all current members of the Executive Committee of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. Dated: February 1, 2011
- Susan Wolf, University of North Carolina, President, American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
- Paul Guyer, University of Pittsburgh, President-Elect, American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
- Edward Casey, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Immediate Past President, American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
- Richard Bett, Johns Hopkins University, Secretary-Treasurer, American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
- Katherine Elgin, Harvard University, Divisional Representative
- Robert Bernasconi, Pennsylvania State University
- Michael Della Rocca, Yale University
- Howard McGary, Rutgers University
- Ted Sider, New York University
- Tommie Shelby, Harvard University
- Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Duke University
*copies have been sent to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán; the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Jozsef Pálinkás; György Szapáry, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Hungarian Embassy in Washington); and Révész Sándor at Nepszabadsag, the only remaining independent newspaper in Hungary.