Political liberalism and autonomy education: Are citizenship-based arguments enough?
- 158 Downloads
Several philosophers of education argue that schooling should facilitate students’ development of autonomy. Such arguments fall into two main categories: Student-centered arguments support autonomy education to help enable students to lead good lives; Public-goods-centered arguments support autonomy education to develop students into good citizens. Critics challenge the legitimacy of autonomy education—of the state imposing a schooling curriculum aimed at making children autonomous. In this paper, I offer a unified solution to the challenges of legitimacy that both arguments for autonomy education face. I first defend a particular construal of liberal legitimacy, and then consider each legitimacy challenge in light of that construal. I argue that the legitimacy challenges confronting both types of argument can be overcome. Further, I explain why we should pursue both arguments, rather than resting the entire case for autonomy education on one or the other. I conclude that each argument—if it can justify autonomy education at all—can justify autonomy education consistent with the requirements of liberal democratic legitimacy.
KeywordsPolitical liberalism Autonomy Citizenship Education
I am grateful to have received helpful feedback on this paper from many generous readers. I especially would like to thank Harry Brighouse, Shanna Slank, Jeff Behrends, David Sanson, Chris Higgins, Randall Curren, David O’Brien, Danielle Zwarthoed, Brittney Grafelman, Alita Kendrick, Liz Fansler, R. J. Leland, Julian Culp, Christie Hartley, Lori Watson, Blain Neufeld, and Andree-Anne Cormier.
- Burtt, S. (1996). In defense of Yoder: Parental authority and the public schools. In I. Shapiro & R. Hardin (Eds.), NOMOS XXXVIII: Political order (pp. 412–437). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Burtt, S. (2003). Comprehensive educations and the liberal understanding of autonomy. In K. McDonough & W. Feinberg (Eds.), Citizenship and education in liberal democratic societies: Teaching for cosmopolitan values and collective identities (pp. 179–207). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Callan, E. (1996). Political liberalism and political education. Review of Politics, 58, 5–33.Google Scholar
- Dworkin, R. (1978). Liberalism. In S. Hampshire (Ed.), Public and private morality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Edenberg, E. (2016). Civic education: Political or comprehensive. In J. Drerup, G. Graf, C. Schickhardt, & G. Schweiger (Eds.), Justice, education, and the politics of childhood. Switzerland: Springer.Google Scholar
- Feinberg, J. (1980). The child’s right to an open future. In W. Aiken & H. LaFollette (Eds.), Whose child? Children’s rights, parental authority, and state power. New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Fowler, T. (2011). The limits of civic education: The divergent implications of political and comprehensive liberalism. Theory and Research in Education, 9(1), 87–100.Google Scholar
- Galston, W. (1992). Liberal purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Gutmann, A. (1987). Democratic education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Kymlicka, W. (1995). Multicultural citizenship. Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press.Google Scholar
- Kymlicka, W. (2002). Contemporary political philosophy: An introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Levinson, M. (1999). The demands of liberal education. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lomasky, L. (1987). Persons, rights, and the moral community. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Macedo, S. (2000). Diversity and distrust: Civic education in a multicultural society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (1993). Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as fairness: A restatement. Cambridge: Harvard university Press.Google Scholar
- Raz, J. (1986). The morality of freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Reich, R. (2002). Bridging liberalism and multiculturalism in American education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar