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Carl Cohen
Full name Carl Cohen
Era 21st-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy

Carl Cohen is Professor of Philosophy at the Residential College of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. He is co-author of "The Animal Rights Debate" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), a point-counterpoint volume with Prof. Tom Regan; he is also the author of "Democracy" (Macmillan, 1972); the author of "Four Systems" (Random House, 1982); the editor of "Communism, Fascism, and Democracy" (McGraw Hill, 1997); the co-author (with J. Sterba) of "Affirmative Action and Racial Preference" (Oxford, 2003), and co-author (with I. M. Copi) of "Introduction to Logic, 13th edition" (Prentice-Hall, 2008).

He has published many essays in moral and political philosophy in philosophical, medical, and legal journals. He has served as a member of the Medical School faculty of the University of Michigan, and as Chairman of the University of Michigan faculty, where he has been an active member of the philosophy faculty since 1955.

Contents

Political activism and historical influence

In 1996, Cohen made public information he had gathered using the State of Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) about the substantial weight of racial factors in the University of Michigan undergraduate admissions office use of a "grid system". Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher sued the University based on this data. Barbara Grutter, in a separate proceeding, sued the Law School of the University of Michigan relying on additional data also revealed by Cohen's FOIA inquiry. While the U-M changed its "grid system" to a "point system" the following year, it argued that both mechanical systems were identical in outcome and that the point system, which became more famous, was designed merely to be easier to understand. The system that Cohen made public was ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court [in Gratz v. Bollinger, 2003] as a "mechanical system," although in a separate ruling concerning the U-M Law School [Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003], the limited use of non-mechanical preferences was allowed.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on June 23, 2003, Cohen, Gratz, Grutter, and others were among those who invited Ward Connerly to Michigan, where he appeared in a July 8, 2003 speech on the Michigan campus announcing the formation of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), to forbid preference by race or nationality in the state. This became Proposition 2 (06-2) in Michigan, appearing on the November 8, 2006 ballot. Cohen was a leading spokesperson for Proposition 2 in a heated electoral campaign. Proposition 2 passed by a 58% - 42% margin. As a result of Cohen's involvement in the issue, he has appeared on numerous panels and in media reports on racial preferences since the mid-1990s.

During the years 1964-67 Cohen, then an Associate Prof. of Philosophy, was an active member of the small planning committee for the Residential College of the University of Michigan. He became the principal author of the "Blue Book" which laid the intellectual foundations for the Residential College. When the Residential College opened in 1967 Cohen became a full-time member of its faculty, and his appointment was shifted from the Department of Philosophy to the Residential College, where he remains the only one of that founding group serving as an active member of the Michigan faculty.

In 1998 anonymous donations totaling some $13,000 were made to the University to name a reading room in the Residential College in Cohen's honor. This was done; a plaque honoring him was placed. It was removed shortly afterwards, however, the reason given being "procedural violations." Many in the University believed that Cohen was being discriminated against because of his outspoken and unpopular opposition to the race-conscious admissions system of the University. Senior members of the Law School faculty, and other faculties, who did not agree with Cohen's views on the admissions matter, nevertheless wrote angrily to the President, Lee Bollinger, in the conviction that technical violations of procedure were being arbitrarily invoked against him, and that the reputation of the University had been besmirched. The President agreed to replace the plaque and to reaffirm the name of the Reading Room; Cohen agreed that his own donation of $10,000 to the University for the room be made public.

Cohen is a tenured professor who has been a member of the U-M faculty since 1955. In 2006 the University held a celebration honoring his 50 years on the faculty. He has been a lifetime activist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), serving as Chair of the Michigan affiliate of the ACLU, and for years as a member of the National Board of Directors of the ACLU.

When the American Nazi Party threatened, in 1978, to march in Skokie, Illinois, Cohen published (in The Nation to which he was a regular contributor) several widely reprinted essays defending the right to present publicly even the most abhorrent political views. [See: "The Extreme Test of Free Speech," The Nation, 15 April 1978] When (as a part of the protest against the war in Viet Nam) efforts were made to forbid research of certain kinds on the U-M campus, Cohen strongly supported the freedom of faculty members to engage in the inquiries that they thought appropriate. During that war Cohen, in active protest, defended selective conscientious objection [See: "The Case for Selective Pacifism," The Nation, 8 July 1968], and defended some, but not all, civil disobedience. [See: "Civil Disobedience and the Law," Rutgers Law Review, Fall, 1966.] When University administrators sought to censor the showing of sexually explicit films on campus, Cohen, then serving as Chair of the University faculty, strongly defended student freedoms before the Regents of the University, with ultimate success. In the mid-1970s, when the fear of misuse led some to oppose the continuation of research in recombinant DNA technology, Cohen defended such research vigorously, both on the Michigan campus and also in The New England Journal of Medicine ["When May Research Be Stopped?" NEJM 26 May 1977.]

Cohen maintains his membership in the ACLU despite his disagreement with the organization's support of race preferences in university admissions. References: open letter from Cohen to Michigan ACLU President Kary Moss.

From 1985 to 1995 a fraction of Cohen's appointment was in the Medical School of the University of Michigan, where he served as Professor of Philosophy and as Director of the Program in Human Values in Medicine. There he served also as a founding member of the Michigan Medical Center's Ethics Committee, as a member of its Animal Care and Use Committee, and for more than 30 years, as a member of its Institutional Review Board (IRB). Cohen's involvement with research on humans led to reflections on the uses of animals in science, which he defends [See: "The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research," New England Journal of Medicine, 2 October 1986]; and on the limited uses of prisoners as research subjects, which he also defends [see: "Medical Experimentation on Prisoners," Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Spring, 1978]; on ethical issues in transplant medicine [See: "Alcoholics and Liver Transplantation," Journal of the American Medical Association, 13 March 1991); and on abortion (See: "How Not to Argue about Abortion, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Fall, 1990).

Having written much about the concept of justice, Cohen became involved, during the 1970s, in the process of Labor/Management arbitration. With the support of the late Prof. William Haber (Economics, U-M), a well-known arbitrator, Cohen became a member of the Labor Panel of the American Arbitration Association, and over the years has issued many arbitration awards in many industries. Cohen remains an active arbitrator for the AAA, and also an Act 312 Arbitrator, and Grievance Arbitrator, for the State of Michigan.

Bibliography

Articles:
The Detroit Free Press, p. 13A
19 June 1992


The Case for Federalism in Organ Sharing
published by the Transplant Policy Center, Ann Arbor, MI
1987


A Critique of the Alleged Moral Basis of Vegetarianism
Food for Thought
2004


A Very Bad Compromise
The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
Spring, 1997


About Personal Consequences in the Academy When a Professor Opposes Racial Preferences
Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 34
Winter, 2002


Accusations of Racism
The University Record, Ann Arbor
26 April 1993


Affirmative Action and Diversity
Commentary, Volume 117, No. 1
January 2004


Affirmative Action and Racial Preference at the University of Michigan
Declining Standards at Michigan Public Universities, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy
February 1997


Affirmative Action and the Rights of the Majority
Minorities, Charles Fried, ed., Dahlem Konferenzen Springer Verlag, N.Y., Tokyo, Berlin
1983

Affirmative Action in Medical School Admissions
Troubling Problems in Medical Ethics , Alan R. Liss, N.Y.,
1981


Alcoholics and Liver Transplantation
Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 265, No. 10, pp. 1299-1301
13 March 1991


An Ethical Perspective on Animal Research
Journal of the American Veterinary Association, Vol. 206, No. 4
15 February 1995


Anencephalic Infants as Sources of Transplantable Organs
Hastings Center Report, pp. 28-30
October/November 1988

Animal Experimentation Defended
The Importance of Animal Experimentation for Safety and Biomedical Research, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 7-16
1990


Citizenship and Obedience: Tangled Obligations
The Nation, Vol. 211, No. 9
September 28, 1970


Civil Disobedience and the Law
Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 21, No. 1
Fall 1966


Civil Disobedience: Moral or Not?
The Nation, Vol. 207, No. 19
December 2, 1968


Concerning Hopwood: A Reply to My Critics
Commentary, Vol. 102, No. 2
August 1996


Conscientious Objection
Ethics, Vol. 78, No. 4
July 1968


Criminal Responsibility and the Knowledge of Right and Wrong
University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1
Fall 1959


Democracy and Its Economic Conditions
Proceedings, Thirteenth International Congress of Philosophy, Mexico City
1963


Democracy and the Curriculum
The Nation, Vol. 208, No. 11
March 17, 1969

Democracy in Israel
The Nation, Vol. 219, No. 2
July 20, 1974

Discrimination and Reverse Discrimination
Law and Philosophy, Vol. 5, p. 135
1986


Divestiture and Apartheid
LSA Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 2, Ann Arbor
Winter 1980


Do Animals Have Rights?
Ethics and Behavior, Harvard University, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 91-102
1997


Equality, Diversity, and Good Faith
Wayne Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 4
July 1980


Ethical Aspects of Animal Research
in The Role of the Chimpanzee in Research G. Eder, E. Kaiser, and F.A. King, eds., Karger Pub.. Basel
1994


Ethnic Justice, Individual Rights
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. XII, No. 1
March 1, 1976


Fairness in Housing
Testimony before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate; published in Hearings on the Fair Housing Amendments Act, Washington, D.C., 1979, pp. 458-495 Washington, D.C.,
September 17, 1979


Fears of Human Cloning are Without Merit
The Detroit News
4 March 1998


Free Speech and Political Extremism: How Nasty Are We Free To Be?
Law and Philosophy 7, pp. 263-279
1989

Honorable Ends, Unsavory Means: Preferential Admission in Higher Education
Civil Liberties Review, Vol. 2, No. 2,
Spring 1975

How Much Democracy for the University?
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. XI, No. 5
October 14, 1975

How Not to Argue about Abortion
Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 567-583
Fall, 1990

How Should We Decide Who Should Decide What Comes Before What?
Ethical Theory and Business, Beauchamp & Bowie, eds., Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs
1979


Introduction to John Dewey, The Middle Works, 1899-1924 Volume 15: 1923-1924
J. A. Boydston, ed., So. Illinois University Press, Carbondale
1983


Is Affirmative Action on the Way Out?
Commentary, Vol. 195, No. 3
March 1998


Justice Debased: The Weber Decision
Commentary, Vol. 68, No. 3, pp. 43-53
September 1979


Law, Speech, and Disobedience
The Nation, Vol. 202, No. 13
March 28, 1966

Medical Experimentation on Prisoners
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 3,
Spring 1978

Militant Morality: Civil Disobedience and Bioethics
Hastings Center Report, Vol 19, No. 6
November 1989


Moral Issues in Medical Experimentation on Humans
Philosophic Exchange, Vol. 2, No. 5; Center for Philosophic Exchange, State University of New York at Brockport, N.Y.,
Summer 1979


Naked Racial Preference
Commentary, Vol. 81, No. 3
March 1986


Natural and Non-Natural Qualities
The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 55, No. 10
May 8, 1958


Naturalism and the Method of Verstehen
The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 51, No. 7
April 1, 1954

On The Child's Status in the Democratic State
Political Theory, Vol. 3, No. 4
November 1975


On the Ethics of Institutions
Ethics and the Campus, B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation, Washington D.C.,
1991


On the Quality of Life
Circulation, Vol. 66, No. 5; American Heart Association Monograph No. 92
November 1982

On the Right of the Patient to Know
Ethics, Humanism, and Medicine, M.D. Basson, ed., Alan R. Liss, Inc., N.Y.
1980


Philosophical Issues in Regulating Biotechnology
Testimony in Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Technology, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives
6 December 1991


Philosophical Reflections on the Impact of Coronary Artery Surgery on Patients' Quality of Life
Quality of Life and Cardiovascular Care Vol. 1, No. 5;
May 1985

Philosophy and Public Policy
Working Papers The Rockefeller Foundation New York
1980


Political Controversy and the University
Public Policy in the 1980s, Southern University Conference Proceedings, N. R. Berte, ed., Savannah
1980


Politically Correct Language
The Detroit News, p. 15A
14 November 1991


Preference by Race in University Admissions and the Quest for Diversity
The Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, Vol 54, 1998, Washington University School of Law
1998


Preference by Race is Neither Just nor Wise
Philosophic Exchange, State University of New York at Brockport
1998


Private Groups vs. Social Justice: The Freedom to be Bad
The Nation, Vol. 216, No. 4
January 22, 1973


Procreation After Death or Mental Incompetence
Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 66, No. 6
December 1996


Punishment by Conscription
The Nation, Vol. 201, No. 22
December 27, 1965


Race and Equal Protection of the Laws
Lincoln Law Review, Vol. X, No. 2
Fall 1977

Race and the Constitution
The Nation, Vol. 220, No. 5
February 8, 1975

Race in University Admissions
The University of Michigan Record, Vol. 52, No. 2
25 February 1997


Race Preference and the Universities - A Final Reckoning?
Commentary, Vol. 112, No.2
September 2001

Race, Lies, and Hopwood
Commentary, Vol. 101, No. 6
June 1996

Racial Preference is Dynamite
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. XIV, No. 10
May 2, 1977

Revolution and Copernican Revolutions
Science and Society, N. H. Steneck, ed., University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor
1975


Sex, Birth Control, and Human Life
Ethics, Vol. 79, No. 4
July 1969

Some Implications of Control
Biological Influents in Mental Health Michigan Department of Mental Health
1962


Technology and Political Freedom
in Technology and Freedom, Alfred Sloan Foundation, Davidson, N.C.
March 1985

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives
June-July 1996


The Abuse of Morality: How Not to be Good
Moral Values in Contemporary Public Life, Marquette University, Milwaukee
1975

The Case Against Group Libel
The Nation, Vol. 226, No. 24
June 24, 1978

The Case for Presumed Consent to Transplant Human Organs After Death
Transplantation Proceedings, Vol. 24, No. 5 pp. 2168-2172
October 1992

The Case for Selective Pacifism
The Nation, Vol. 207, No. 1
July 8, 1968

The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research
New England Journal of Medicine 315: 865-870
October 2, 1986


The Corruption that Is Group Preference
Academic Questions
Summer 1998


The Dangers of Inquiry and the Burden of Proof
Southern California Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 6, pp. 1081-1113
September 1978


The Equal Protection of the Laws
The Detroit News
28 December 1997


The Ethics of Civil Disobedience
The Nation, vol. 198, No. 12
March 16, 1964


The Extreme Test of Free Speech
The Nation, Vol. 226, No. 14
April 15, 1978


The Health of the American Democratic System
Proceedings, National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, New York
June 1974


The Justification of Democracy
The Monist, Vol. 55, No. 1
January 1971

The Morality of Transplantation
Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 266, No. 2, pp. 213-214
10 July 1991


The Penalty of Preference
The Michigan Daily, Ann Arbor
23 October 1992


The Poverty of a Dialogue
Problems of Communism, vol. XIII
Sept.-Oct. 1964

The Right of Privacy
The Nation, Vol. 212, No. 8
February 22, 1971


The ROTC and the University
The Michigan Alumnus, Ann Arbor
September 1979


The Uses of Race in Admission under Regents v. Bakke
The Journal of Law in Society, volume 1, no. 1, Wayne State University Law School, Detroit
Winter, 1999


The Village of Skokie vs. Carl Cohen: An Exchange
The Nation, Vol. 226, No. 17
May 6, 1978


Three Tests for an Electorate
The New York Times (Op-Ed)
November 4, 1970

Treating Animals Humanely; Obligations, Not Rights
The National Law Journal
12 August 2002


Universities Abuse Admissions Powers
The Detroit News, Op-Ed
31 March 1996


University Policy on Discriminatory Harassment
The University Record, Ann Arbor
9 November 1992


What is the Difference between an HIV and a CBC?
Hastings Center Report, pp. 18-20
August/September 1988


What Transplantation Can Teach Us about Health Care Reform
The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 330: 858-6
24 March 1994


What, in Our House?
The Nation, Vol. 217, No. 21
December 17, 1973


When May Research Be Stopped?
The New England Journal of Medicine, 296:1203-1210
May 26, 1977


Which Way is Left?
The Yale Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 4
Summer 1969


Who Are Equals?
The National Forum, Vol. 58, No 1
Winter 1978

Who's to the Left? What's to the Right?
Rackham Reports, Graduate School of Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Vol. 9, No. 1
Spring 1983


Why Racial Preference is Illegal and Immoral
Commentary, Vol. 67, No. 6, pp. 40-52
June 1979

Winks, Nods, Disguises - and Racial Preference
Commentary, Volume 116, No. 2
September 2003

Books:
Affirmative Action and Racial Preference
Oxford University Press, NY and London
2003


Civil Disobedience: Conscience, Tactics, and the Law
Columbia University Press, N.Y
1971


Communism, Fascism and Democracy: The Theoretical Foundations
McGraw-Hill, N.Y
1997


Democracy
University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1971 The Free Press, Macmillan, N.Y., 1973
1971,73


Four Systems
Random House, N.Y.,
1982


Introduction to Logic
Prentice-Hall, New York, London
2004


Introduction to Logic
Prentice-Hall, New York, London
2001


Naked Racial Preference:The Case Against Affirmative Action
Madison Books, Rowman and Littlefield NY, London
1995


On Rule by the People
Beijing, The Commercial Press
2004


The Animal Rights Debate
Rowman & Littlefield, NY, London
2001

See also

External links

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