Liberalism and Communitarianism: a response to two recent attempts to reconcile individual autonomy with group identity

Educational Studies 24 (3):295-304 (1998)


Summary This article is concerned with recent attempts to balance the claims for political citizenship in a liberal democracy (liberalism) with competing claims for cultural identity within traditional non?liberal communities (communitarianism). Claims of the first kind are usually seen as universal in that they are based on what it is to be human, while claims of the second kind are seen as particular in so far as they relate to membership of a specific culture. Singh (1997) argues for discussion method as a means of reconciling the claims of democratic citizenship with those of cultural attachment in non?liberal communities. In an earlier and related paper, Singh (1995) also seeks an accommodation between shared and particular values in a multicultural society. Halstead (1997) is concerned about the dilemmas faced by liberal educators and by Muslims with regard to the sex education curriculum and Muslim pupils. In an earlier paper, Halstead (1995) makes proposals for a curriculum which combines a communitarian commitment to the cultural integrity of non?liberal communities with active participation in the life of a liberal democracy. I will argue that whether we begin from a liberal commitment to individual autonomy (Singh) or from a concern for the cultural integrity and survival of non?liberal communities (Halstead), there are very real difficulties in achieving a reconciliation between liberal and communitarian perspectives

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References found in this work

Education, Democratic Citizenship and Multiculturalism.Michael Walzer - 1995 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 29 (2):181–189.
Muslims and Sex Education.J. Mark Halstead - 1997 - Journal of Moral Education 26 (3):317-330.

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