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Education's EpistemologyRationality, Diversity, and Critical Thinking$
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Harvey Siegel

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190682675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190682675.001.0001

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How Should We Educate Students Whose Cultures Frown upon Rational Disputation?

How Should We Educate Students Whose Cultures Frown upon Rational Disputation?

Cultural Difference and the Role of Reason in Multicultural Democratic Education

(p.280) 17 How Should We Educate Students Whose Cultures Frown upon Rational Disputation?
Education's Epistemology

Harvey Siegel

Oxford University Press

`How should public education in democratic states deal with the cultural diversity brought about by contemporary globalization? My suggestion is that key to democratic public education is the obligation to foster in students the skills and abilities, and attitudes and dispositions, needed to participate fully in democratic decision-making. Of central importance are the abilities and dispositions required for critical thinking and rational argumentation: evaluating arguments of others, constructing arguments of one’s own that might rationally persuade one’s fellow citizens, etc. Without these abilities and dispositions, full participation in democratic decision-making is impossible. But fostering them is problematic when students are members of cultures in which argumentation is frowned upon. In this paper I address this tension, and argue that while respecting cultural differences is of the first importance, in democracies it cannot override the requirements of democracy itself. When these two clash, the requirements of democratic participation must take precedence.

Keywords:   argumentation, citizenship, critical thinking, cultural diversity, democracy, multiculturalism, public education, rationality, reason

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