Chapter

LIBERAL EDUCATION: THE UNITED STATES EXAMPLE

K. Anthony Appiah

in Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780199253661
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601972 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199253668.003.0003
LIBERAL EDUCATION: THE UNITED STATES EXAMPLE

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Anthony Appiah’s essay on liberal education in the United States begins by identifying a distinctive feature of classical liberalism – namely, that the state must respect substantial limits with respect to its authority to impose restrictions on individuals, even for their own good. Nevertheless, Appiah points out, the primary aim of liberal education is to ‘maximize autonomy not to minimize government involvement’. Most of the essays in this volume, including Appiah’s, are attempts to address the question of what the liberal commitment to maximize personal autonomy means when it comes to the teaching of what Appiah refers to as ‘identity-related claims’. The aim of this chapter is to suggest how one might begin to think about some questions in the philosophy of education, guided by the liberal thought that education is a preparation for autonomy, and to show that this tradition is both powerful enough to help with this difficult question and rich enough to allow answers of some complexity.

Keywords: education; liberal education; liberalism; personal autonomy; personal identity; philosophy of education; United States

Chapter.  8668 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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