Res Publica

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 367–381

The Problems of Liberal Neutrality in Upbringing



This paper considers the effect of political liberal principles on the children in society. Specifically, the paper argues that political liberalism faces a problem where parents or other adults want to pass on bizarre or dangerous beliefs to their offspring. This problem arises because in the political liberal framework the only limit on what doctrines a child may acquire is that the child becomes a reasonable citizen. Since this criterion is designed to be lax, this implies children may justly be inculcated with views that may undermine their welfare in later life. This presents political liberals with a dilemma. Ensuring that children are taught appropriate views requires narrowing the scope of political liberal principles, whilst keeping the broad focus of political liberalism brings with it unpalatable consequences when we consider the next generation.


Neutrality Political liberalism Education Pluralism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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