Why I’m teaching free speech to Cambridge students

Damian Whitworth
The Times
3 November 2022

In a wood-panelled room in one of the oldest colleges at the University of Cambridge a professor with a growing reputation for stirring up academic hornets’ nests is launching an experiment.

Arif Ahmed, a professor of philosophy, is so concerned that students are more interested in cancelling each other (and visiting speakers) than engaging in civil debate, he is running training sessions on free speech.

The room at Gonville and Caius, where Ahmed is a professor, is full to capacity, with about 40 students from this and other colleges. Ahmed has invited the writer, comedian and TV presenter Andrew Doyle and the philosopher and author Piers Benn to take the audience back to the 17th century, to talk about traditions of free speech. The pair whisk us through John Locke’s advocacy of toleration and John Milton’s championing of freedom of the press. The student questions are wide-ranging and sometimes challenging, but the tone of the evening is consistently cordial, including when the conversation inevitably reaches transgender issues.

Read the full article at The Times.