Re: Theos-World Finesse, access, and scholarly ethics
Sep 07, 2004 06:00 PM
by Eldon B Tucker
At 05:27 PM 9/7/2004, you wrote:
The sad truth about religious studies scholarship is that access to
resources can depend on implicit promises not to question truth claims
associated with belief systems ...
This seems unfair in the sense that restrictions are put on the information
that may be shared with you. When someone says, "We'll let you know this
secret if you promise not to tell anyone," it makes it seem better to find
out from someone else that doesn't extract such an unfair promise.
Other restrictions I don't like are when someone collects certain materials
and then imposes a usage restriction on them. Say someone came to me and
wanted to copy an article out of the 1889 volume of LUCIFER. If I were to
say that the person needed my permission to use and publish that article,
that would be extortion, yet I've heard of archives imposing such
restrictions on materials that are, I suspect, in terms of copyright, in
the public domain.
As a courtesy, I'd acknowledge in a citation that a particular picture or
article came from such-and-such an archive, but I do not think that it's
fair for an archive to impose conditions on the use of the materials once
they have been shared.
From the standpoint of the free flow of information and the right of
people to think for themselves, I also can appreciate the feelings that
people may have when sharing archives. If I was working to promote a
specific belief system and heavily involved in an organization that
promoted it, I would hesitate to provide free access to materials that
would provide ammunition to critics. But that would only be the case if I
were closed-minded, and were unwilling to allow myself sufficient
objectivity to accept that my viewpoint is just that -- a viewpoint -- and
should exist side-by-side with the equally legitimate but sometimes
different viewpoints of others.
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