The Moral Justifiability of Encouraging Ecological Worldviews in Education
Geest, F.J. van der
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In the needed transformation towards a sustainable society, an increasing amount of scholars point to the importance of worldviews when trying to encourage sustainable behavior. The endeavor of encouraging a particular worldview in citizens with this specific aim poses a potential conflict with the values currently present in liberal democracies, namely that the state should remain neutral with regard to worldviews in public spaces and institutions, in order to protect the autonomy and freedom of citizens to form and live by one’s own worldview. In this thesis the focus is on the moral permissibility of encouraging ecological worldviews in compulsory education, since this would potentially be one of the most effective public institutions for carrying out the suggested transformation in worldview. In the ethical discussion of this issue, a distinction of different worldview components, combined with the reconsideration of the feasibility and desirability of government neutrality, as well as the possible boarders of freedom and autonomy in adopting a particular worldview in education, will lead to the conclusion that under certain conditions, it can indeed be morally permissible to encourage ecological worldviews in compulsory education.