Open Letter Regarding President Bolsonaro’s Recent Pronouncements on Defunding Philosophy and Sociology

Postado em: 02/05/2019


We, the undersigned academics around the world, would like to express our alarm and concern about President Bolsonaro’s recent claims that he is planning to defund Philosophy and Sociology (and possibly other areas in the Humanities and social sciences). Brazilian public universities have produced internationally recognized major research in both of these areas. Philosophy and Sociology are fundamental disciplines of any modern university, and, given the interdisciplinary nature of the university, defunding them will affect not only research in these specific areas, but also the reputation, and the quality of research and teaching, of Brazilian universities across all areas. In fact, it is ironic that Philosophy is singled out in this respect, as philosophers in Brazil were among the pioneers of paraconsistent logic, a research program that has had impact in such diverse areas as robotics and expert systems for medical diagnosis.

President Bolsonaro implies in his remarks that public funding should flow exclusively to professional schools. These are certainly important programs. However, a democratic society depends not only on its commercial productive output, but also on its social institutions, its understanding of their foundations and governing principles, as well as its understanding of how these policies and institutions affect its population. Research in social sciences and humanities, and especially Philosophy and Sociology, is vital to such an understanding. The contribution of academics to public debates is also of crucial importance to a well functioning democracy.

Students taking courses in these areas learn to think critically about their conditions, and the broader condition of the society and the world around them. But also the wider public and Brazilian society benefit from the intellectual expertise from philosophers and sociologists.

Thus an attack on Philosophy and Sociology, as well as the humanities and social sciences more generally, is an attack on the very fabric of a democratic society. We call on the Bolsonaro government to reconsider such proposals, and we call on all citizens of Brazil to join us in preserving public support of the social sciences and humanities in Brazil.

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