Sigma: Journal of Political and International Studies


Clara W. Cullen


normative outlook, parenting, teaching, normative beliefs


In her paper, Freedom and Influence in Formative Education, Kyla Ebels-Duggan addresses the debate regarding the moral justification of parents and educators raising children under a particular normative outlook, with normative outlook and beliefs referring to one’s perspective on what actions, behaviors, outcomes, or beliefs are acceptable or correct. This normative outlook pertains not just to moral judgments but also views on the superior way of life. This debate questioning if parents and educators are morally correct in shaping their children according to their normative beliefs is of particular importance amidst rising political contention regarding the content and methods of public education. In contrast to many philosophers who favor an “open future” approach, where important choices are left undecided until the child is able to choose for themselves, Ebels-Duggan argues that parents should raise their children according to their own normative beliefs. Ebels-Duggan agrees with her counterparts that respecting autonomy is a crucial requirement when teaching children, yet she suggests doing so does not prohibit educators from offering their own well-reasoned normative views. However, Ebels-Duggan’s argument remains somewhat ambiguous as to the methods of view-shaping; is it, for example, morally justifiable to deliberately withhold information, narratives, or views in attempts to shape another person?