Liberalism and the Justification of Public Education

Dissertation, Queen's University at Kingston (Canada) (1994)

Abstract
Although contemporary liberal political philosophy does not provide an explicit account of the nature and value of public education, it nevertheless contains the moral and conceptual resources to do so. In this dissertation, I develop a specifically liberal justification of public education by examining the relationships which obtain between civic virtue, cultural membership, education and citizenship--relationships which are at the core of liberal political morality. I analyse how each of these concepts relates to our most fundamental ethical interests, and specifically our essential interest in living a truly good life. The central claim of the dissertation is that education is the pre-eminent value for the realization of a liberal citizenry. That is, I argue that education is a necessary condition of what is required for citizens to live lives of true meaning and worth, to live lives that are good in fact. Education is thus a "primary good"--an all-purpose means for the living of a good life--and ought to be recognized as such by liberal theories of justice and equality. By granting education status as a "primary good" within a liberal theory of justice and equality, liberals would be in a position to articulate a powerful and compelling justification of public education, a vital project for contemporary liberal political morality
Keywords Education   Education and state   Educational equalization   Liberalism
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ISBN(s) 0315902892
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