E.G. West and state intervention in education : a philosophical exploration
E.G. West raises, but does not adequately address, philosophical issues concerning the justification for state intervention in education. West's market model is outlined, and likely objections - based on recent arguments against 'internal markets' in education - are explored. Chapter 1 outlines West's role for the state in inspecting a 'minimum adequate education for all'. Chapter 2 examines whether this could overcome the objection that markets won't satisfy equality of opportunity. Williams', Rawls' and Dworkin's arguments on equality are found compatible with West's model. The curriculum for West's model is then investigated: Chapter 3 considers 'education for democracy', and whether compulsion is needed to ensure the desired qualities for democratic participation emerge, or whether they could emerge freely in civil society. A reductio ad absurdum argument brings out the illiberal consequence of a compulsory curriculum, of a 'fitness test' for democratic participation. Chapter 4 explores 'education for autonomy'. John White's argument for a compulsory curriculum for autonomy could undermine other autonomy-promoting institutions in civil society, it is suggested. White's argument depends upon Joseph Raz's argument for state promotion of autonomy, which is explored, raising the 'epistemic argument' for markets. John Gray's argument to this effect is extended, to suggest that there will be difficulties with any 'fleshing out' of West's curriculum if it is to be promoted by the state. One way around this, democratic control of the curriculum, is explored in chapter 5. Difficulties with John White's approach arise because of logical constraints on improving democracy, raised by consideration of social choice theory (Arrow's theorem and its corollaries) and public choice theory (logrolling). Chapter 6 considers the objection to markets that education is a 'public good', using the arguments of Gerald Grace and Ruth Jonathan. These are put in the context of the game. theory literature of De Jasay, Taylor, and Axelrod. The 'public goods dilemma' is explored, to arrive at less pessimistic conclusions about markets in education than the critics of markets we consider. Finally, chapter 7 briefly relates the issues to the contemporary discussion about markets, including internal markets and vouchers, in education.