Education for autonomy and open-mindedness in diverse societies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, democracies across the globe have seen an increase in the popularity and power of authoritarian, nationalist politicians, groups, and policies. In this climate, the proper role of education in liberal democratic society, and in particular its role in promoting characteristics like autonomy and open-mindedness, is contested. This paper engages this debate by exploring the concept of autonomy and the obligations of liberal democratic societies to promote it. Presenting the conditions for the exercise and development of autonomy, I argue that the intellectual virtue of open-mindedness is necessary (though not sufficient) for possession of the capacity for autonomy and the motivation to exercise this capacity. In considering the importance of autonomy in liberal democratic societies, I argue that education for autonomy and open-mindedness can be justified by appealing to several liberal democratic aims: ensuring fair opportunity in the pursuit of the good life and preparing students for citizenship in diverse society. My analysis of the relationship between autonomy and open-mindedness aims to contribute to the literature by identifying a conception of autonomy that explicitly acknowledges its connections to intellectual virtue, thus clarifying one aspect of its value and identifying an important component of education that supports autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1326-1337
Number of pages12
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 6 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • citizenship
  • liberalism
  • open-mindedness
  • virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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