Theory and Research in Education 16 (2):162-178 (2018)

Michael Merry
University of Amsterdam
Many philosophers argue that religious schools are guilty of indoctrinatory harm. I think they are right to be worried about that. But in this article, I will postulate that there are other harms for many individuals that are more severe outside the religious school. Accordingly the full scope of harm should be taken into account when evaluating the harm that some religious schools may do. Once we do that, I suggest, justice may require that we choose the lesser harm. To simplify matters, I focus my attention on the stigmatic harm done to Muslims, and the role that Islamic schools might be expected to play in mitigating that harm. If the full weight of stigmatic harm is factored into the ethical analysis concerning Islamic schools, then I suggest that there are sufficiently weighty pro tanto reasons for Muslim parents to prefer an Islamic school over the alternatives, notwithstanding the potential indoctrinatory harm.
Keywords indoctrination  Islam  stigma  Muslims  religious schools  Europe  social exclusion
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