International Education Journal


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Autonomy and liberalism in a multicultural society

Paul Jewell
Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

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That children should be educated to be ideal citizens, capable of making rational and informed decisions, has been proposed in cultures ranging from Ancient Greece to current societies. In particular, societies that favour liberalism preach the primacy of the individual autonomous citizen and a concomitant tolerance for others. In modern multicultural societies, ways must be found to maintain stability and tolerance of cultural differences. Some cultures do not favour the primacy of the autonomous individual, so educators face a dilemma. Should they promote autonomy in their students, even though that is counter to some cultures' values, or should they abandon promoting autonomy in favour of even-handed treatment of all cultural values? This paper argues for the former, maintaining that educators have a duty, as a matter of professional ethics, to equip their students with the ability to make their own decisions in a modern complex world. 

Autonomy, liberalism, ethics, multicultural, citizens


Jewell, P. (2005) Autonomy and liberalism in a multicultural society. International Education Journal, 6 (4), 494-500.

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