Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Claudia Mills

Second Advisor

Alison Jaggar

Third Advisor

Ken Howe


This work is a response to the mounting criticisms of what I refer to as ‘traditional liberal‐democratic education.’ I defend a characteristically liberal‐democratic approach to education and schooling from recent internal and external challenges. I argue that the traditional liberal‐democratic commitments to common schooling, emancipatory education, and secular instruction are well‐founded and can be acceptably reconciled with the challenges of multiculturalism and religious diversity found in the modern state.

This defense is twofold. First, I defend these principals from recent theoretical reproach leveled on the grounds that they employ an objectionable view of autonomy, fail to recognize the parental and community right to educate, and are inadequate to foster civic magnanimity among future citizens. Second, I employ these principals in defending several particular policy proposals concerning a number of contentious policy issues currently at forefront in the conflict between religious belief and liberal‐democratic education. In particular, I demonstrate how a commitment to these principals can guide us in coming to appropriate conclusions about the role of homeschooling and private schools, the appropriateness of teaching Intelligent Design Theory in the classroom, and the importance of recognizing and accommodating religious expression in schools.