Rawlsian liberalism and public education

Podschwadek, Frodo (2018) Rawlsian liberalism and public education. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3316237


This thesis aims at giving a plausible account of education from the perspective of John Rawls’ theory of political liberalism. Despite the fact that an immense amount of literature has been written on both Rawls’ work in general and political liberal theory in particular, this still seems to be a worthwhile task, for two reasons. The first reason is that the current discussion of liberal neutrality in the philosophy of education frequently engages with Rawlsian liberalism, despite the actual lack of an adequately refined Rawlsian account of liberal education. The second reason is that political liberal theory itself leans more toward the side of ideal political theory, provoking the question whether it has any application value for real politics. A sufficiently developed account of political liberal education would demonstrate that practical guidelines can indeed be generated from political liberal principles.

After providing a comprehensive overview over the few explicit claims about education Rawls made himself, and over the parts of his theory indicating further educational requirements for citizens of a liberal society, the thesis splits into two parts. The first part analyses the relation between core concepts of political liberalism (political virtues, autonomy, and rights) and education. Next to engaging with objections against neutrality-based restrictions in the context of education, this part also highlights the shortcomings of political liberalism when faced with the concrete requirements of education and proposes suitable revisions. The second part of the thesis picks out a number of concrete topics of education that are discussed in contemporary liberal theory. It analyses the questions to what extent religious beliefs entitle parents to determine the education of their children, to what degree same-sex relations should be part of a liberal sex-education curriculum, and what challenges migration might pose for political liberal education. For each case, the account of political liberal education presented here can provide guidelines based on the insights gained in the first part of this thesis.

Together, the mainly theoretical first and the more practical second part shape the outlines for a political liberal account of education which, albeit sketchy, provides a useful contribution to the current debates about liberalism and education in a way which has not been done in the literature on political liberalism so far.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Liberalism, education, John Rawls, neutrality, political, virtues, autonomy, religion, LGBTI, immigration.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
J Political Science > JC Political theory
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Colburn, Dr. Ben and Lazenby, Dr. Hugh
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Frodo Podschwadek
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30612
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2018 14:43
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2018 07:43
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/30612

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