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Moral Education and the Ethics of Consent

Forthcoming in Peter Schaber and Andreas Müller, eds., The Ethics of Consent (Routledge 2018)

28 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2017  

William A. Edmundson

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: August 31, 2017

Abstract

Expressions of consent are valid only if freely given. Consent coerced at gunpoint is normally not binding, and subtler forms of influence also vitiate consent: hypnosis and brainwashing, for example. This leads to a difficulty for liberal theories of political obligation. How can a citizen, who has been raised from birth to believe she is morally bound to the state, validly consent to its demands? John Rawls and Bernard Williams each addressed the problem, and each proposed a similar solution: modes of moral and civic education do not preclude valid consent if the citizen would freely consent to have been educated in those ways. The argument of this chapter is that this solution leads to a dilemma: either the familiar practices of early education must be radically and pervasively reformed, or political philosophers must concede that state authority cannot be consensual “all the way down.”

Keywords: Consent, political authority, moral education, Rawls, Bernard Williams

Suggested Citation

Edmundson, William A., Moral Education and the Ethics of Consent (August 31, 2017). Forthcoming in Peter Schaber and Andreas Müller, eds., The Ethics of Consent (Routledge 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3030337

William Edmundson (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
85 Park Place NE
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States
404-413-9167 (Phone)
404-413-9225 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.gsu.edu/wedmundson/

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