A tenured professor or curator has an appointment that lasts until retirement age, except for dismissal with just cause. A common justification for existence of such a privileged position is the principle of academic freedom, which holds that it is beneficial for state, society and academy in the long run if scholars are free to examine, hold, and advance controversial views.
Some have argued that modern tenure systems diminish academic freedom, forcing those seeking tenured positions to profess conformance to the level of mediocrity as those awarding the tenured professorships. For example, according to physicist Lee Smolin, "...it is practically career suicide for a young theoretical physicist not to join the field of string theory" However, in institutions without tenure systems, academic freedom and the ability to espouse non-conformist views are afforded no protections.
- Lee Smolin, The Trouble with Physics
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