Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Trousered Apes: Abstract

I have added a link on the sidebar to my essay Producing Trousered Apes in Dwyer's Totalitarian State. This essay reviews James Dwyer's book Vouchers Within Reason: A Child Centered Approach to Education Reform (Cornell 2001). Dwyer argues that vouchers for religious schools are both constitutionally and morally required so that the state can step in and regulate religious schools in order protect children from the educational and psychological harm inflicted on the young by religious (specifically Catholic and fundamentalist) schools and parents.

In this essay, I take Dwyer to task on three grounds. 1) Dwyer's project fails under the weight of his own criteria for a proper education because he refuses to consider "the full range of human interests and moral and legal considerations at stake" in formulating an educational policy. Specifically, he rejects the spiritual realm and dismisses the role of the family and intermediary institutions in forming the cultural life of the community. 2) Dwyer envisions a liberal version of a totalitarian state where the sole voice in educating the young is a secularist state. 3) Dwyer's educational method is fundamentally flawed and is aimed at producing what C.S. Lewis called trousered apes.

Dwyer wants children to be educated for freedom, and he thinks this requires freedom from what he views as oppressive religious communities. I close the essay by suggesting an alternative education for freedom, rooted in a Catholic anthropology. In proposing this alternative, I borrow heavily from Luigi Guissani (The Risk of Education), Jacques Maritain (Education at the Crossroads), and C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man).


Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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