Political liberalism, civic education, and educational choice

Social Theory and Practice 33 (1):47-74 (2007)
Abstract
In this paper we argue that John Rawls’s account of political liberalism requires a conception of mutual respect that differs from the one advanced in A Theory of Justice. We formulate such a political liberal form of mutual respect, which we call ‘civic respect.’ We also maintain that core features of political liberalism – in particular, the ideas of ‘the burdens of judgment’ and ‘public reason’ – do not commit political liberalism to an ideal of personal autonomy, contrary to claims made by various commentators. Furthermore, we maintain that teaching the idea of ‘public reason’ to students in civic education courses does not threaten their ‘ethical integrity.’ On the basis of these points, we maintain – against political and educational theorists like Eamonn Callan and Amy Gutmann – that political liberalism permits a wider range of educational policy options, including some ‘school choice’ policies, than most forms of comprehensive liberalism. We conclude the article by considering some such policies
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