The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice

University of Chicago Press (2015)

Abstract

This book features a group of top-notch philosophers tackling some of the biggest questions in higher education: What role should the liberal arts have in a college education? Should colleges orient themselves to the educational demands of the business sector? What is the role of highly selective colleges in the public sphere? To what extent should they be subsidized directly, or indirectly, by the public? Should they simply teach students skills and academic knowledge, or should they play a role in shaping character, and if so to what end? Should highly selective colleges admissions practices give an edge to racial minorities, or legacies, or poor students? How much should the public purse subsidize disadvantaged students attending such institutions? These questions are fundamentally about moral and political valuesquestions of distributive justice and of what constitutes valuable education. Philosophers are trained to identify value considerations in great detailindeed, often with more precision than is ever needed for practical purposes!but most disagreements about policy and practice proceed with minimal attention to the values assumed on either side, and all sides can benefit from more clarity about exactly what moral values are at play. The philosophers here, then, address some of the fundamental questions underlying debates about higher educationand in ways that are interesting and accessible to others."

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Harry Brighouse
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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