David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophy of Education 45 (1):19-35 (2011)
A popular justification of education for autonomy is that autonomy possession has intrinsic prudential value. Communitarians have argued, however, that although autonomy may be a core element of a well-lived life in liberal societies, it cannot claim such a prudential pedigree in traditional societies in which the conception of a good life is intimately tied to the acceptance of a pre-established worldview. In this paper I examine a recent attempt made by Ishtiyaque Haji and Stefaan Cuypers to respond to this challenge by reestablishing the intrinsic prudential value of autonomy, and I argue that although their work has merit in some respects, it suffers from a notable theoretical deficiency as well as a practical deficiency. Like Haji and Cuypers, I wish to argue that autonomy has intrinsic prudential value; but my argument is not grounded on the claim that autonomy is a necessary part of well-being. I argue, rather, that it stands to reason—and that liberals and traditionalists alike have reason to accept—that autonomous assent to a conception of the good life is an intrinsically prudentially better state of affairs than nonautonomous assent to the same. My goal in this essay, then, is to clarify the prudential significance of (and to provide a justification for) education for autonomy in a manner that will be appealing to liberals and traditionalists alike
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