This timely and important book presents a compelling new theory of political education for liberal democracies. Amidst current concern over the need to encourage a morally sensitive and committed citizenry, Professor Callan's study provides a much-needed balanced discussion of the proper ends of education, as well as the moral rights of parents and children.
Any liberal democratic state must honour religious and cultural pluralism in its educational policies. To fail to honour them would betray ideals of freedom and toleration fundamental to liberal democracy. Yet if such ideals are to flourish from one generation to the next, allegiance to the distinctive values of liberal democracy is a necessary educational end, whose pursuit will constrain pluralism. The problem of political education is therefore to ensure the continuity across generations of the constitutive ideals of liberal democracy, (...) while remaining hospitable to a diversity of conduct and belief that sometimes threatens those very ideals. Creating Citizens addresses this crucial problem. In lucid and elegant prose, Professor Callan, one of the world's foremost philosophers of education, identifies both the principal ends of civic education, and the rights that limit their political pursuit. This timely new study sheds light on some of the most divisive educational controversies, such as state sponsorship and regulation of denominational schooling, as well as the role of non-denominational schools in the moral and political development of children. Oxford Political Theory presents the best new work in contemporary political theory. It is intended to be broad in scope, including original contributions to political philosophy, and also work in applied political theory. The series will contain works of outstanding quality with no restriction as to approach or subject matter. The series editors are David Miller and Alan Ryan. (shrink)
Autonomy is important to leading a good life but a common liberal instrumental construal of the way in which it contributes to the leading of a good life is defective. A one‐sided focus on the development of capacities for revision of conceptions of the good should be corrected by attention to the value of developing capacities permitting a rational adherence to a conception of the good. Exposing children to a diverse but shallow secular and consumer culture might not facilitate goodness‐enhancing (...) autonomy in a way that is superior to the more insular strategies of religious minorities whose child‐rearing practices are criticized by liberals. (shrink)
Suppose your friends had to ascribe a single vice to you in large measure, along with any virtues that could be coherently combined with that salient vice. Suppose further that the vice had to be either cowardice or impatience. Which would you choose? I believe almost everyone would choose impatience without hesitation. There are sound moral as well as purely self-regarding reasons for despising cowardice, and to that extent our preference would be reasonable. If we say that a man who (...) is a coward is also compassionate, we know that his compassion cannot be relied upon in any circumstances where it must contend with fear, and if he has a sense of justice, that will be useless if oppression has to be resisted. We cannot even expect him to pursue his own good whenever he perceives that to be hazardous, and so even the self-regarding virtues are corrupted by his dominating vice. On the other hand, a pronounced impatience may seem to be compossible with abundant virtue. Those who are just but cannot patiently endure tyranny are perhaps the most formidable threat to tyranny, and people who boldly go out to seize their own good often fare rather better than those who patiently await its arrival. (shrink)
A liberal society is committed to respecting the rationality and autonomy of its individual members as well as the potential for those characteristics where they have not actually developed. This commitment has provided the basis for liberal criticism of educational practices which instil uncritical convictions in the minds of the young. But the perpetuation of a liberal society depends upon the perpetuation of a strong and widespread allegiance to the contestable values which shape societies of this kind. How can the (...) goal of socialization in a liberal society be achieved while maintaining a thorough respect for the individual learner's potential for rationality and independence of mind? A fashionable answer to this question has been derived from theories of moral reasoning such as R.M. Hare's. In this paper the author argues that the fashionable answer is inadequate and puts forward some positive suggestions about the true nature of a liberal moral education. (shrink)