Harry Brighouse

in Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780199253661
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601972 | DOI:

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Harry Brighouse’s essay concludes Part I of the book by taking up one aspect of the task of clarifying the role of common education, by applying it to the teaching of patriotism in public (common) schools. He asks whether liberal and cosmopolitan values are compatible with a common education aimed at fostering patriotic attachment to the nation. He examines numerous arguments recently developed to justify fostering patriotism in common schools from a liberal–democratic perspective, and finds them all wanting. However, even if liberal–democratic arguments for teaching patriotism could be found that withstand the criticisms he advances, Brighouse argues that common schools should avoid using history as the vehicle for fostering patriotic loyalty, since even the most honest, clear-sighted, unsentimental attempts to teach national history are likely to degrade and undermine the other purposes that teaching history properly has. The chapter proceeds as follows: Section 6.1, discusses briefly the justifications of patriotism and the further arguments that patriotism is something that should be taught to children in school – and in particular the argument that history is an appropriate vehicle for teaching it; Section 2 casts doubt on the arguments for patriotism and even more doubt on the idea that it should be taught; Section 6.3 argues that history is a discipline particularly inappropriate for conveying patriotic feeling; Section 6.4 concludes.

Keywords: common education; common schools; cosmopolitan values; cosmopolitanism; history; liberal values; liberal–democratic education; liberalism; national history; patriotic history; patriotism

Chapter.  8253 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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