Moral Education and the Ethics of Consent
The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Consent
Peter Schaber & Andreas Muller
Contribution to Book
Expressions of consent are valid only if freely given. Consent coerced at gunpoint is normally not binding, and subtler forms of influence also vitiate consent: hypnosis and brainwashing, for example. This leads to a difficulty for liberal theories of political obligation. How can a citizen, who has been raised from birth to believe she is morally bound to the state, validly consent to its demands? John Rawls and Bernard Williams each addressed the problem, and each proposed a similar solution: modes of moral and civic education do not preclude valid consent if the citizen would freely consent to have been educated in those ways. The argument of this chapter is that this solution leads to a dilemma: either the familiar practices of early education must be radically and pervasively reformed, or political philosophers must concede that state authority cannot be consensual “all the way down.”
William A. Edmundson, Moral Education and the Ethics of Consent, in The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Consent 372 (Peter Schaber & Andreas Muller eds., Routledge, 2018).
Institutional Repository Citation
Edmundson, William A., "Moral Education and the Ethics of Consent" (2017). Faculty Publications By Year. 2718.