Bortolotti, Lisa, and Daniela Cutas. Reproductive and Parental Autonomy: An Argument for Compulsory Education

2009, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 19 (Ethics Supplement): 5-14.

Abstract: In this paper we argue that society should make available reliable information about parenting to everybody from an early age. The reason why parental education is important (when offered in a comprehensive and systematic way) is that it can help young people understand better the responsibilities associated with reproduction, and the skills required for parenting. This would allow them to make more informed life-choices about reproduction and parenting, and exercise their autonomy with respect to these choices. We do not believe that parental education would constitute a limitation of individual freedom. Rather, the acquisition of relevant information about reproduction and parenting and the acquisition of self-knowledge with respect to reproductive and parenting choices can help give shape to individual life plans. We make a case for compulsory parental education on the basis of the need to respect and enhance individual reproductive and parental autonomy within a culture that presents contradictory attitudes towards reproduction and where decisions about whether to become a parent are subject to significant pressure and scrutiny.

Comment: This text provides a clear overview of debates about reproductive autonomy and compulsory education. It also contains responses to well known criticisms of compulsory parental education. It would be best used in a course dealing with issues of parenthood and procreation, reproduction, or autonomy in a medical context.

Darby, Derrick, and . Adequacy, Inequality, and Cash for Grades

2011, Theory and Research in Eduation 9 (3): 209-232.

Abstract: Some political philosophers have recently argued that providing K-12 students with an adequate education suffices for social justice in education provided that the threshold of educational adequacy is properly understood. Others have argued that adequacy is insufficient for social justice. In this article I side with the latter group. I extend this debate to racial inequality in education by considering the controversial practice of paying students cash for grades to close the racial achievement gap. I then argue that framing the demand for racial justice in education solely in terms of educational adequacy leaves us unable to take issue with the cash for grades policy as a matter of principle. While this does not entail that educational adequacy is unimportant, it adds to the general case for why adequacy does not suffice for social justice.

Comment: This text is a good rejoinder to Anderson and Satz's arguments concerning the shift from a focus on providing an equal education to an adequate education. Though it could be read in absence of those texts, it requires a familiarity with the idea of sufficientarianism - and so should probably be read after Anderson's "Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective." It would have a place in a course concerning egalitarianism in education, racial justice, or education and democracy.

Gutmann, Amy, and . Democratic Education

1999, Princeton University Press.

Publisher’s Note: Who should have the authority to shape the education of citizens in a democracy? This is the central question posed by Amy Gutmann in the first book-length study of the democratic theory of education. The author tackles a wide range of issues, from the democratic case against book banning to the role of teachers’ unions in education, as well as the vexed questions of public support for private schools and affirmative action in college admissions.

Comment: Comprehensive and insightful treatment of the subject of education in a democracy. Could provide a main text for a specialised lecture or seminar, or solid further reading on a more general module for anyone particularly interested in civic education.

Ivanova, Milena, and . Pierre Duhem’s Good Sense as a Guide to Theory Choice

2010, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science part A 41(1): 58-64.

Abstract: This paper examines Duhem’s concept of good sense as an attempt to support a non rule-governed account of rationality in theory choice. Faced with the underdetermination of theory by evidence thesis and the continuity thesis, Duhem tried to account for the ability of scientists to choose theories that continuously grow to a natural classification. The author examines the concept of good sense and the problems that stem from it. The paper presents a recent attempt by David Stump to link good sense to virtue epistemology. It is argued that even though this approach can be useful for the better comprehension of the concept of good sense, there are some substantial differences between virtue epistemologists and Duhem. The athor proposes a possible way to interpret the concept of good sense, which overcomes the noted problems and fits better with Duhem’s views on scientific method and motivation in developing the concept of good sense.

Comment: Interesting article that could serve as further reading in both epistemology courses and philosophy of science classes. Really good as an in-depth study of Duhem's views on scientific method. Recommendable for postgraduates or senior undergraduates.

Olsaretti, Serena, and . Liberty, Desert and the Market: A Philosophical Study

2004, Cambridge University Press

Abstract: Are inequalities of income created by the free market just? In this book Serena Olsaretti examines two main arguments that justify those inequalities: the first claims that they are just because they are deserved, and the second claims that they are just because they are what free individuals are entitled to. Both these arguments purport to show, in different ways, that giving responsible individuals their due requires that free market inequalities in incomes be allowed. Olsaretti argues, however, that neither argument is successful, and shows that when we examine closely the principle of desert and the notions of liberty and choice invoked by defenders of the free market, it appears that a conception of justice that would accommodate these notions, far from supporting free market inequalities, calls for their elimination. Her book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy, political theory and normative economics.

Comment: Attacks libertarian defences of market distributions on the grounds that they are either justified or the result of free choices. Provides a good counterpoint to Nozick's entitlement theory in particular, and draws out important issues on the relationship between choice, voluntariness, and responsibility. Olsaretti's own account of voluntariness, which she develops in the later chapters is hugely influential. Would make good reading for an in-depth treatment of libertarianism and/or Nozick's entitlement theory. Would also provide very substantial further reading.

Olsaretti, Serena, and . Children as Public Goods?

2013, Philosophy and Public Affairs 41(3): 226-258.

Content: Olsaretti is interested in the question of whether nonparents in a just society have a duty to share some of the costs of raising children with those people who choose to be parents. She considers the main argument in favour of that claim, that children are public goods. Although she sees some merit in the public goods approach, she develops an alternative socialised goods argument, which she holds to be ultimately stronger.

Comment: Helpful for examining issues around children, parents, non-parents and distributive justice, and also for thinking about individuals bearing responsibility for choices more generally. Could be a specialised required reading or further reading.