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Ethical code on active pluralism

Philosophical diversity is an integral part of our contemporary society and of our university. In responding to this diversity, the University of Antwerp takes an actively pluralistic approach. Active pluralism shares the moral sensitivity of passive pluralism: that it is never justifiable to exclude people, deprive them of their freedom or diminish their integrity because of their convictions. Tolerance is always founded on respect for the individual's right to freedom of expression. When this attitude results in mutual non-interference (which often leads to mutual indifference) and in the idea of strict neutrality in government, public institutions and public spaces, the situation is known as passive pluralism. Refraining from expressing certain ideas is not the only way to shape philosophical diversity, however: taking an active interest in the philosophical positions of others can contribute to a more sustainable society and better quality of life.

Active pluralism departs from the premise that strict neutrality does not always do justice to the intrinsic importance of philosophical ideas and the place they occupy in public spaces. Philosophical ideas inevitably play an important role in the moral subconscious and in the daily opinions and actions of individuals, organisations and societies. Every view of truth and morality is ultimately influenced by underlying ideas, presumptions, sources and paradigms. In opting for an actively pluralistic approach, the University of Antwerp wishes to explore different options for dialogue, critical reflection and revitalisation at this deeper level.

Active pluralism is not a philosophical conviction but an attitude to one's own and other people's philosophical convictions. It insists on substantive dialogue within and among different philosophical convictions and on a real commitment to taking philosophical convictions seriously both as a phenomenon and as a practice. This also means that the University of Antwerp encourages substantive positioning. Society and the public debate - which the university plays an important role in - both benefit from considered reflection and communication in which the various philosophical sources can be explained and discussed. Of course, the University of Antwerp also believes strongly in freedom of research, high-quality research and education, freedom of expression and academic freedom. The presence of philosophical convictions must not be allowed to contradict these values.

Active pluralism as an attitude doesn't provide many ready-made answers to particular questions. Instead, it shapes the environment in which a range of answers can be weighed up and discussed. First and foremost, active pluralism invites people to create open spaces for discussing philosophical topics and expressing our innermost impulses and identifications. The dialogue that results can be considered open in two senses: firstly, there is the openness with which we enter into the debate, and secondly, there is the open-endedness of the dialogue. In any discussion about philosophical convictions, the aim is not to eliminate mutual tension but to continuously use this tension as a subject for further reflection.


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