Res Publica

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 291–296 | Cite as

Political Liberalism and the Interests of Children: A Reply to Timothy Michael Fowler



Timothy Michael Fowler has argued that, as a consequence of their commitment to neutrality in regard to comprehensive doctrines, political liberals face a dilemma. In essence, the dilemma for political liberals is that either they have to give up their commitment to neutrality (which is an indispensible part of their view), or they have to allow harm to children. Fowler’s case for this dilemma depends on ascribing to political liberals a view which grants parents a great degree of freedom in deciding on the education of their children. I show that ascribing this view to political liberals rests upon a misinterpretation of political liberalism. Since political liberals have access to reasons based upon the interests of children, they need not yield to parent’s wishes about the education of their children. A correct understanding of political liberalism thus shows that political liberals do not face the dilemma envisaged by Fowler.


Political liberalism Neutrality Education The good 


  1. Fowler, Timothy Michael. 2010. The problems of liberal neutrality in upbringing. Res Publica 16: 367–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Rawls, John. 2005. Political liberalism: expanded edition. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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