Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Liberty of conscience and mass schooling
by Adams, Steven, Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2014, 207; 3681681
Abstract (Summary)

Public education in the United States has seen many changes over the years. Some of those changes came in response to what are now recognized as clear problems with religious liberty in the common education system adopted in the mid 1800's. This dissertation reviews past and current ideas related to religious liberty and the larger issue of liberty of conscience (Nussbaum, 2008) in education and pursues a research question by considering past and current issues. Does a system of general, mass education necessarily infringe upon students' liberty of conscience? This question is pursued following a Deweyan framework of philosophy of education wherein a "felt difficulty" is identified, information is gathered to apply to the difficulty, and possible solutions to problems identified (Dewey, 1938).

I begin with a discussion of liberty of conscience and a discussion of some of the conflicts included in a system of mass education. This establishes the structure of the difficulty, or problem. The history of the public education system in the United States is reviewed with a focus on the common education system adapted in the 1830's along with relevant issues related to religious intolerance. Improvements in the respect for religious diversity applied to that system over time and improvements proposed but not yet fully implemented are discussed. Ideas from religious intolerance literature is introduced to add insight and expose the larger issue of liberty of conscience including how those ideas can be applied to educational systems. The process of religious intolerance (Corrigan & Neal, 2010) is developed into an architecture of religious intolerance that can assist with identifying this type of intolerance in educational settings.

I argue that while many of the strongest issues of religious intolerance in public education have been resolved, many problems still remain. I will also argue that the intolerance is not limited to religious intolerance but includes intolerance for ideas stemming from many different epistemic foundations. This will lead to a consideration of an idea I have labeled as epistemic intolerance. These arguments support an answer to the research question, which is that a system of general, mass education does necessarily infringe on students' liberty of conscience if one or more cultural majorities centrally control that system of education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Milligan, Jeffrey A.
Commitee: Anderson, Thomas, Iatarola, Patrice, Schwartz, Robert
School: The Florida State University
Department: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, Education philosophy
Keywords: Choice, Conscience, Education, Liberty, Religious, School
Publication Number: 3681681
ISBN: 978-1-321-54582-1
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