To the Editors:
Developments of the past several weeks concerning the seven Belgrade “Praxis” philosophers deserve quick notice. On December 30, 1980, they were dismissed from their posts as merely “suspended” professors of the University of Belgrade. They may receive job offers in non-academic institutions, but they have no prospect of alternative academic jobs under the Serbian government’s interpretation of the recent law.
During the past two months, some optimism had been felt since consideration was given to their employment in the Institute of Philosophy of the University in research posts without teaching duties. These talks failed. Furthermore, Professor and Academician Mihailo Marković was interrogated by security police recently and his passport was confiscated. As yet, passports have not been taken from the others.
What might be done by scholars abroad? First, invitations might be arranged for appointments to visiting lectureships since most of the seven philosophers are competent in French, English, Russian, or German. Second, research projects might be arranged for them to work in collaboration with colleagues abroad, with financial support sufficient for academic employment. Third, a Committee of Solidarity is under formation in the United States with Charles Kahn of the University of Pennsylvania philosophy department as chair; information about a similar effort in Europe may be obtained from Professor G.H. von Wright at the Academy of Finland in Helsinki or from Professor Joachim Israel at the University of Lund, Sweden.
In these and other ways, sympathetic observers may be able to persuade the Yugoslav authorities that the Belgrade philosophers will not be forgotten by their colleagues, their students, or academic associations outside of their countries.
Robert S. Cohen
Center for Philosophy of Science
Center for European Studies
March 5, 1981