Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In public discourse about education there has always been conflict over the question of teaching values in school, and not without reason. But the civility of that discourse has now been stretched to its breaking point. The nation has become more and more deeply divided about questions of moral values and self proclamations of exclusive morality have become the standard fare of political warfare. While perhaps most ardently pressed by the “fundamentalist Right” in politics, polarization of positions is manifest on all sides. In light of the past four years of a presidency committed to a constituency that relentlessly presses its agenda of fundamentalist religious values, and in the mandate of 59 million people that has endorsed a continuation of that policy, the values of liberal education and universal reason so hard won in the Enlightenment two hundred years ago have seemingly been left behind along with the constitutional imperative of the separation of church and state. The idea that there is a liberal—that is open, rational, and responsive—approach to questions of virtue, and a public morality apart from the privileged and dogmatic bias of a self-selected and self-righteous group of citizens who would dictate values, is one that needs re-consideration and re-direction in the context of public discussions of education.

Publication Information

Midwest Journal Philosophy of Education

Included in

Philosophy Commons