'A lack of clarity' veils poor ideas

October 22, 2004

It is "a moral disgrace" that students are exposed to the unclear writing of many postmodernist thinkers, a roundtable discussion on postmodernism and social sciences heard on Monday night.

Peter Abell, professor of management at the London School of Economics, told the audience at The Times Higher -sponsored event: "We have a moral obligation as academics to be as precise as we can. Postmodernists have a tendency to mask a lack of deep content through a lack of clarity.

"Why should we tolerate that? We have the right to say that a lot of what is going on in universities is not acceptable." He was supported by sociologist Frank Furedi and Max Steuer, reader emeritus at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences.

Nik Rose, LSE convener of sociology, geographer Ed Soja and sociologist Kirsten Campbell opposed the claim. Professor Soja berated the trend to "stereotype" postmodernism: "Sloppy postmodernism is no worse than sloppy social science. Both are done badly by weak and mediocre people."

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