Tamanaha's Temptation:

I've been mulling over Brian Tamanaha's post "Losing My Stomach for Honest Academic Exchange," in which he reflects on the tension between personal relationships and academic integrity. The post was prompted by his discomfort at the prospect of writing a negative review of work by a fellow academic, and his "remorse" over making critical comments in another recent review.

From now on, to avoid being in these situations, I have resolved to only write reviews for books that I truly like (which I have done with pleasure a number of times). I feel like a coward, shirking my responsibility as an academic.
It would be easy to pile on Tamanaha for allowing his desire to maintain personal relationships to overcome his commitment to academic integrity. In this he is surely not alone, however. Many academics mistake a refusal to be forthright and critical for the virtue of civility, and academia as a whole is much the worse for it.

Yet Tamanaha deserves credit for both for raising this issue and engaging it with such candor and self-awareness. Few of our academic colleagues would openly acknowledge a tendency to choose a superficial collegiality over honest academic exchange. Indeed, far too many academics pretend to engage in serious discourse when doing little more than mutual back-scratching. This may advance careers but it is corrosive of serious academic standards. It is the professional equivalent of grade inflation.

To Tamanaha's further credit he recognizes the threat this tendency poses to the entire academic enterprise.

It's not as much fun as it used to be to have a frank exchange of ideas, at least for me. More importantly, if we all start censoring our critical thoughts out of a desire not to offend others, or to avoid provoking a backlash, academic discourse will suffer. For this reason, I hope others do not share in my cowardice.

UPDATE: More from Daniel Solove here.