https://orcid.org/Daniel J. Perrone

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)



First Advisor

Granville Ganter

Second Advisor

Jennifer Travis

Third Advisor

Anne E Geller


This dissertation surveys several landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases of academic freedom in the 20th and 21st century to argue for the value of a tolerant and liberal interpretation of unrestricted academic freedom. Central to its argument is a defense of Oliver Wendell Holmes 1919 ruling in Abrams that society is best served where all expressions are tested in a “marketplace of ideas,” a term first used by John Stuart Mill in his 1859 essay, “On Liberty.” In an era of increasing casualization of academic labor (the adjunct labor force) and political paranoia about terror, I conclude that the continual defense and affirmation of academic freedom as a concept is particularly necessary to counterbalance repressive forces on academic knowledge production. I argue that the idea of academic freedom in America, expressed in the American Association of University Professor's 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, has been greatly limited by social and political developments in the 20th and 21st centuries. The consequence of the erosion of academic freedom within the American academy is that generations of future students will not question or challenge the status quo. By looking at the erosion of academic freedom, I will argue that the philosophical basis of academic freedom must reside in the “marketplace of ideas,” and that contemporary labor practices threaten to extinguish academic freedom as it has been defined for over 100 years.