School Choice and Social Justice

By Harry Brighouse | Go to book overview

5 Objections to Autonomy-Facilitating Education

The argument of Chapter 4 succeeds in showing that all children have a strong interest in becoming autonomous, and suggests that institutions external to the family have a crucial role to play in fulfilling that interest. Nevertheless, it does not establish that it is permissible for the state to protect that interest by designing educational institutions to facilitate autonomy against the wishes of the parents. Justice requires that, only if there are no other considerations of justice that prohibit it. So we have to take on a series of arguments asserting that whatever interest children have in becoming autonomous, it is the business of the family, rather than the state, to protect that interest, or neglect it, as it sees fit. If any of these arguments is successful, then, although autonomy is valuable, it is not a value that may guide the design of educational institutions, and so may not be invoked in opposition to school choice.


The Strong Right to Form One's Children's Values

Conservative libertarians are generally uncomfortable with the idea that the state should play any deliberate role in affecting the relationship between children and parents. In public life they often appeal to the 'right to freedom of association', or the 'right to raise one's own children' to block government interference. But, as we saw in Chapter 1 , these rights are underspecific.

Consider the right to freedom of association. This is an important right, but it is one which most naturally holds among consenting adults. The right to free association does not support claims to associate with those who wish to avoid your company. It does, standardly, protect consensual sexual relations, but only among adults, not between adults and children or among children. The right to raise a family, similarly, does not permit

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