Maximal Preference Utilitarianism as an Educational Aspiration

Andrew Stables

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This paper attempts to square libertarian principles with the reality of formal education by asking how far we should and can allow people to do as they wish in educational settings. The major focus is on children in schools, as the concept ‘childhood’ ipso facto implies restrictions on doing as one wishes, and schools as institutions entail inevitable constraints. Children by definition (however contested) tend to enjoy stronger protection rights but weaker liberty rights than adults. A local preferential calculus (after Bentham’s felicific calculus) is developed as a guide for teachers, suggesting wishes should be granted where feasible and at least welfare neutral. In the case of teachers, employers set the parameters for the feasibility criterion but should also ensure at least welfare neutrality, while students in adult and higher education should be responsible for the feasibility and welfare outcomes of their own choices.

© 2016, Taylor and Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 06/04/2018) is an author produced version of a paper published in Ethics and Education, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthics and Education
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2016

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