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BONG HiTS 4 CITIZENS: Civic Education & Political Authority
Unformatted Document Text:  34 view, the student might claim that her speech does not manifest disrespect for persons because she ‘hates the sin but loves the sinner.’ 49 Is this student’s argument inconsistent with the concept of liberal rights or merely with one particular conception of those rights? But, leaving that difficult issue aside, one might wonder whether Gutmann’s nonrepression principle ought to exclude the community values desideratum altogether by prohibiting schools and educators from taking positions on the normative status of exercises of political authority that are not required by liberal democratic rights. Does a conception of civic education that privileges criticism over law-abidingness, membership, and community values entail that in such cases we should generally adopt option 9 (or, perhaps, option 5 or 6) from fig. 2? The promotion of particular political values and commitments by educational institutions might be thought to restrict “rational deliberation of competing conceptions of … the good society,” but I shall argue that we should not rush to this conclusion. Much depends on the details of a given case; as I have argued elsewhere, 50 an educational environment that aims to promote a rationally contestable set of beliefs and values need not be incompatible with the development of children’s autonomy. Carefully chosen educational means can coherently and effectively advance both goals in satisfactory ways. Nonetheless, hard choices will have to be made as we trade off certain desiderata against others. And there is very little that can usefully be said in fully general terms about the 49 Notice that arguments of this sort, whether or not their premises are deemed disrespectful, might be considered unsuitable for political purposes in a liberal democracy because of their religious character. This, of course, depends upon one’s conception of liberal democracy, as discussed above. 50 MacMullen, Faith in Schools? (Princeton, NJ; Princeton University Press, 2007)

Authors: MacMullen, Ian.
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34
view, the student might claim that her speech does not manifest disrespect for persons
because she ‘hates the sin but loves the sinner.’
49
Is this student’s argument inconsistent
with the concept of liberal rights or merely with one particular conception of those rights?
But, leaving that difficult issue aside, one might wonder whether Gutmann’s
nonrepression principle ought to exclude the community values desideratum altogether
by prohibiting schools and educators from taking positions on the normative status of
exercises of political authority that are not required by liberal democratic rights. Does a
conception of civic education that privileges criticism over law-abidingness, membership,
and community values entail that in such cases we should generally adopt option 9 (or,
perhaps, option 5 or 6) from fig. 2? The promotion of particular political values and
commitments by educational institutions might be thought to restrict “rational
deliberation of competing conceptions of … the good society,” but I shall argue that we
should not rush to this conclusion. Much depends on the details of a given case; as I have
argued elsewhere,
50
an educational environment that aims to promote a rationally
contestable set of beliefs and values need not be incompatible with the development of
children’s autonomy. Carefully chosen educational means can coherently and effectively
advance both goals in satisfactory ways.
Nonetheless, hard choices will have to be made as we trade off certain desiderata against
others. And there is very little that can usefully be said in fully general terms about the
49
Notice that arguments of this sort, whether or not their premises are deemed disrespectful, might be
considered unsuitable for political purposes in a liberal democracy because of their religious character.
This, of course, depends upon one’s conception of liberal democracy, as discussed above.
50
MacMullen, Faith in Schools? (Princeton, NJ; Princeton University Press, 2007)


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