To the Beat of Different Drumer....Freedom, Anarchy and Conformism in Research
In this paper I attempt to make a case for promoting the courage of rebels within the citadels of orthodoxy in academic research environments. Wicksell in Macroeconomics, Brouwer in the Foundations of Mathematics,Turing in Computability Theory, Sraffa in the Theories of Value and Distribution are, in my own fields of research, paradigmatic examples of rebels, adventurers and non-conformists of the highest calibre in scientific research within University environments. In what sense, and how, can such rebels, adventurers and nonconformists be fostered in the current University research environment dominated by the cult of picking winners? This is the motivational question lying behind the historical outlines of the work of Wicksell, Brouwer, Hilbert, Bishop, Veronese, Gödel, Turing and Sraffa that I describe in this paper. The debate between freedom in research and teaching and the naked imposition of correct thinking, on potential dissenters of the mind, is of serious concern in this age of austerity of material facilities. It is a debate that has occupied some the finest minds working at the deepest levels of foundational issues in mathematics, metamathematics and economic theory. By making some of the issues explicit, I hope it is possible to encourage dissenters to remain courageous in the face of current dogmas.
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