Volume 89, 2015
Analyzing Catholic Philosophy
Is Mandatory Autonomy Education in the Best Interests of Children?
In this paper I argue that liberal proponents of mandatory autonomy education tend to overlook or underestimate the potential threats that such an education poses to the overall well-being of children (including, ironically, threats to the development of genuine autonomy). They do so by paying insufficient attention to the importance of moral virtue as a constitutive element of and precondition for genuine autonomy, and by failing to recognize how the development and consolidation of moral virtue may be undermined by the sort of autonomy education they recommend. I develop my argument through engagement with the work of Eamonn Callan and Ian MacMullen, drawing on Aristotelian ethics to highlight the shortcomings in their accounts.