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BONG HiTS 4 CITIZENS: Civic Education & Political Authority
Unformatted Document Text:  23 convictions in politics in order to say that liberal democracies are committed to respecting the religious freedom of individual citizens and that all citizens possess equal rights regardless of their religious beliefs. Underspecified principles of this sort will suffice for some of my purposes. And, I suggest, it may also turn out that normative inquiry into civic educational principles and practices will contribute to the ongoing foundational task of justifying a complete conception of liberal democracy. When particular controversies in civic education depend for their resolution on foundational claims about liberal democracy, sometimes our analysis of the particular controversies will shed light on the underlying debate. This approach to moral reasoning, which has obvious similarities to John Rawls’ method of reflective equilibrium, 34 is not elegantly deductive – it does not proceed from first principles to concrete cases – but it seems to me more promising in all its inelegance. My strategy is to move between three levels of generality – cases, conceptions of civic education, and conceptions of liberal democracy – in the hope of thereby learning something about each of the three levels. The fourth desideratum concerns the community values that are expressed by the distinctive practices and institutions of at least one particular political community. Civic education is a means by which political communities aim to reproduce themselves not merely as liberal democracies (as we discussed in reference to the previous desideratum) but also as entities with a distinctive civic-political culture and tradition. The principles of liberal democracy do not require that the state should officially recognize monogamous marriage, that marijuana should be prohibited by law, that there should be a bicameral legislature, or that committing certain acts of cruelty to animals will make one 34 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA; Belknap Harvard Press, 1999/1971), pp. 18-19

Authors: MacMullen, Ian.
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convictions in politics in order to say that liberal democracies are committed to
respecting the religious freedom of individual citizens and that all citizens possess equal
rights regardless of their religious beliefs. Underspecified principles of this sort will
suffice for some of my purposes. And, I suggest, it may also turn out that normative
inquiry into civic educational principles and practices will contribute to the ongoing
foundational task of justifying a complete conception of liberal democracy. When
particular controversies in civic education depend for their resolution on foundational
claims about liberal democracy, sometimes our analysis of the particular controversies
will shed light on the underlying debate. This approach to moral reasoning, which has
obvious similarities to John Rawls’ method of reflective equilibrium,
34
is not elegantly
deductive – it does not proceed from first principles to concrete cases – but it seems to
me more promising in all its inelegance. My strategy is to move between three levels of
generality – cases, conceptions of civic education, and conceptions of liberal democracy
– in the hope of thereby learning something about each of the three levels.
The fourth desideratum concerns the community values that are expressed by the
distinctive practices and institutions of at least one particular political community. Civic
education is a means by which political communities aim to reproduce themselves not
merely as liberal democracies (as we discussed in reference to the previous desideratum)
but also as entities with a distinctive civic-political culture and tradition. The principles
of liberal democracy do not require that the state should officially recognize
monogamous marriage, that marijuana should be prohibited by law, that there should be a
bicameral legislature, or that committing certain acts of cruelty to animals will make one
34
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA; Belknap Harvard Press, 1999/1971), pp. 18-19


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