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Abstract

This article examines the issue of the ethical status of education, particularly as related to individual dignity and freedom. We select cases that have been described in fine detail by social science—the education of girls and the education of all children within counter-hegemonic movements. These cases involve issues of access to equitable and high quality education. Such issues arise when cultural norms and political exigencies place restrictions on who can attend various types of schools, if any, and when students cannot render their own judgments about particular worldviews espoused by their religious, cultural, and sociopolitical communities. We examine recently developed philosophical frameworks that can provide a reasonable respect for cultural traditions and the rights of individuals to shape their own destinies. Then we apply two such frameworks (Amartya Sen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s) to the cases and discuss the relative merits of each.

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