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ERIC Number: ED479886
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Aug
Pages: 41
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Sex Education, Liberalism, and Natural Law: Toward an Overlapping Consensus.
D'Onofrio, Eve
From a political standpoint, the battle over sexuality education is not simply a dispute over the most effective means to promote the sexual and reproductive health of youth; but rather, a clash over the shape and direction of society itself. (McKay, 1999). This paper explores the theoretical underpinnings of the debate over the content and scope of formal sex education in schools in liberal democratic society, with a particular focus on the United States. The debate often pits parents with deeply held religious convictions and fairly conservative understandings of human sexuality against more secular-minded citizens, who are often resentful of what they perceive as an attempt by the former to erase the boundary between church and state. The paper argues that this policy debate is a manifestation of a deeper conflict between adherents to two comprehensive moral doctrines: (1) Millian individualist liberalism; and (2) natural law. It contends that, while there are serious and important differences between these two doctrines, their shared appreciation for individual liberty, autonomy, and equality makes feasible a kind of overlapping consensus about the value of sex education and the manner in which children and adolescents ought to be educated about sex. Although this consensus is likely not unanimous, it demonstrates that by drawing on two distinct and sometimes competing political moral traditions, a controversial public policy may in principle warrant wider support, and benefit from diverse ideological viewpoints. (Contains 97 notes.) (BT)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A