Autonomy and Education

25.01.2018 - 27.01.2018 / Tagung Nr. 4-1-18


In Zusammenarbeit mit der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Leitung: Michael Spieker / Monika Betzler

Sekretariat: Simone Zschiegner, Tel: 08158-256-47


The concept of autonomy is related to education in two different ways: Firstly, autonomy is one of the most fundamental aims of education. Parents and public educational institutions typically pursue the goal that children become autonomous persons in the future. But what does it mean to become an autonomous person? How is autonomy related to age? How is autonomy related to other ethical values such as well-being or flourishing? Secondly, autonomy plays a major role in the justification of education as well. Who has the autonomy to raise children? Typically parents fulfill this role. But what precisely is entailed by parental autonomy? What is the reach of parental autonomy, and what are its limits? Autonomy in the first sense is taken to be an individual property, something that is good for children and which they should have as future adults. Autonomy in the second sense means something different: namely the liberty or legitimacy to raise one’s children in the manner one prefers. Hence, we have two different perspectives on the relation of autonomy and education: The ethical perspective on values and how they can be realized. The other is the perspective of political philosophy which deals with questions of legitimacy, authority, and rights. But in spite of being different, both perspectives are not independent from each other. For example, Joel Feinberg’s open future argument can be considered as an autonomy-based argument against specific forms of parental autonomy. Further, parental autonomy, at least to a certain degree, seems to be an important prerequisite for children’s proper development – including the future autonomy of the child. In this workshop we want to pursue these two different perspectives on the relation between autonomy and education. We thereby also hope to work out similarities and differences between both notions of autonomy.


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