NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ830439
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-1477-8785
Dilemmas of Autonomy and Happiness: Harry Brighouse on Subjective Wellbeing and Education
Warnick, Bryan R.
Theory and Research in Education, v7 n1 p89-111 2009
Harry Brighouse has advanced an intriguing set of arguments about the place of human flourishing in liberal educational theory. In his book "On Education", Brighouse argues that autonomy can be justified instrumentally because it promotes flourishing. He links flourishing to the psychological concept of "subjective wellbeing" and he spells out the implications of subjective wellbeing research for educational policy. Each of these moves, while promising, raises questions. It is unclear how the instrumental justification for autonomy is a political improvement for liberalism over other justifications, and the link between autonomy and flourishing can be questioned on empirical grounds. In addition, a focus on subjective wellbeing may be irrelevant to the central ethical considerations relating to education and economic growth. Finally, the use of social science research on subjective wellbeing may present problems if it is used to construct educational policies around the "central tendencies" of large populations while overlooking students with more eccentric preferences. (Contains 7 notes.)
SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 800-818-7243; Tel: 805-499-9774; Fax: 800-583-2665; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A