Rob Reich

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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The essays in Part III of the book, on liberal constraints and traditionalist education, argue for a more regulatory conception of liberal education and emphasize the need for some controls over cultural and religious educational authority. Rob Reich’s essay, on multicultural accommodations in education, proposes that the liberal state needs to rethink its commitment to cultural groups whose educational agendas advance the integrity of the group over and against the freedom and equality of its members, and that thus educate in ways that place strict limits on the autonomy and critical thinking skills of their members. He aims to examine two prominent defenses of multiculturalism, showing how each pays insufficient attention to the tension between cultural groups: Avishai Margalit and Moshe Halbertal argue that, because individuals have a ‘right to culture’, the state must grant groups a status that may flout the rights of some individuals, conditioned on the ability of those individuals to exit; Will Kymlicka, in a far more sophisticated version of multiculturalism, defends cultural rights, and accommodations, but only for those cultural groups that are themselves internally liberal (except in rare circumstances) and that take seriously the value of personal autonomy. Reich contends that, while the freedom to exit from a group is important, the group rights supported by Margalit and Halbertal may serve to disable or severely impoverish the ability of children to exit from groups; further, he contends that, while personal autonomy is important, Kymlicka’s conception of autonomy is unsatisfactory and, moreover, his defense of rights to separate schooling for national minorities and to educational exemptions for some polyethnic groups leaves him open to the same critique about exit that Reich levies against Margalit and Halbertal. Along the way, Reich comments on the odd fixation of multiculturalists on rights of exit.

Keywords: ability to exit; Avishai Margalit; cultural authority; cultural groups; cultural rights; education; educational authority; educational exemption; equality; freedom; individual rights; liberal education; liberalism; Moshe Halbertal; multicultural accommodations; multiculturalism; national minorities; personal autonomy; religious authority; right to culture; rights to exit; separate education; separate schooling; tension between cultural groups; traditionalist education; Will Kymlicka

Chapter.  11452 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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