Cultural Diversity, Liberal Pluralism and Schools: Isaiah by Nei Burtonwood

By Nei Burtonwood

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Additional info for Cultural Diversity, Liberal Pluralism and Schools: Isaiah Berlin and Education (Routledge International Studies in the Philosophy of Education (Numbered))

Example text

It is not surprising in the context of these arguments that Reich should consider homeschooling to be much the greatest threat to liberal education in America. The number of children who are home-schooled far outweighs those affected by the Yoder and Mozert decisions. Autonomy and belonging Feinberg and Callan have both amended somewhat their earlier accounts of autonomy in order to find some space for a consideration of the good of belonging. Feinberg (2004) relies on a distinction between a propositional rationality that requires of a truth claim that it survives rational scrutiny and a pragmatic rationality that is inclusive of claims that are warranted because they cohere with other beliefs and allow believers to live well rather than live true.

So that children can live their lives well from the inside, Enlightenment liberals favour education for autonomy-facilitation but accept that mature adults might choose lives of religious devotion. Where Berlin is cited in support of liberal arguments of this kind it is in the context of individual liberty and the importance of choosing, whether the outcome be one of rejection of, or adherence to, a particular way of life. Although Enlightenment liberals might disagree about the exact nature of civic education there is agreement that a substantial civic education will be required if children are to be well prepared to live satisfying lives that remain well lived from the inside while tolerant of other citizens who choose to live differently.

37 This book will argue that Berlin is a pluralist who recognizes that among political systems liberalism offers the best chance of protection from cruelty and the fear of cruelty. He is an opponent of monism first and foremost because of his recognition that the certainty that goes with final solutions usually calls for huge sacrifice and comes with great violence and terror. But the preference for pluralism over monism remains liberal in Berlin’s case (though not Gray’s) because Berlin’s is a limited pluralism that refuses approval to societies and communities that fall short of human decency by failing either to protect their own members from cruelty and fear or by preventing the threat of cruelty to others (Gutmann, 1999).

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