Introduction Reading: Cigman, R. (2007) A question of universality: Inclusive education and the principle of respect, Journal of philosophy of education, 41(4), 775-793 Tension 1: Between universal and objective principles and subjective incentives or self-interest Tension 2: Between universal and objective principles and personal freedom
Tension 1: Between universal and objective principles and subjective incentives or self-interest
Utilitarianism: from the particular to the universal Utilitarianism aims to work towards the greatest good for the greatest number. This does not mean that justice or the greatest good is objective or that for us all to be peaceful and happy we must all submit to the same systems or laws. It is possible to think of good and justice as conterminous and therefore subject to the same need to remain flexible in relation to particular occurrences. The diversity of different people’s particular needs and pleasures is enough to put into question an objective understanding of the good and the just.
Utilitarian reflections on special schooling Should one school fit ‘all’? Should ‘all’ fit into one school? ‘We should take each individual issue on its own and seek to resolve it on educational grounds’ (Barrow, 2001:241) ‘Policies of working towards including all children with SEN in mainstream schools and classes should be abandoned. Instead, the level of inclusion … should be decided on the needs of each individual child … rather than attempting to make ‘one size fit all’ (Hornby, 1999:157).
Kant: starting with the universal We cannot take as our starting point the way the world is. Rather, thinking about inclusive education means considering how the world should be. So, who should education be? What should schools look like? Kant says: ‘Now, I say, man and in general, every rational being exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will’ (Kant, 1990: 45, 428). In other words, Kant distinguishes that which has ‘only relative worth as means, and are therefore called “things”’, from ‘rational beings’ which ‘are designed “persons” because their nature indicates that they are ends in themselves …’ (Kant, 1990: 45, 428).
Tension 2: Between the universal and objective principles and personal freedom
Where freedom begins and ends John Stuart Mill’s questions: What, then, is the rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself? Where does the authority of society begin? How much of human life be assigned to individuality? (Mill, 1946: 66) The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it’ (Mill, 1972:75).
Mill and the injustice of thinking the universal before the particular ‘If it were only that people have diversities of taste, that is reason enough for not attempting to shape them all after one model. But different persons also require different conditions for their spiritual development....’(Mill, 1972: 125) Should we really send everyone to the same schools? And even further, should we teach everyone exactly the same things at the same pace in a hope for the same result? Should we all become clones of one another so that we no longer have any need or desire for progress, change or betterment which might subvert the system? If we are truly to think of the universal before we think of the particular then this would be the result.
Towards a justice of personal freedom: Thinking the particular Montlake should stay open If it does not then the children whose particular needs are met by the school will be victims of injustice. The personal freedom which they, or their parents, have actively limited by being a part of our society will have been taken advantage of.
Mill writes that: Justice remains the appropriate name for certain social utilities which are vastly more important, and therefore more absolute and imperative, than any others are as a class (though not more so than others may be in particular cases); and which, therefore, ought to be, as well as naturally are, guarded by a sentiment not only different in degree, but also in kind; distinguished from the milder feeling which attaches to the mere idea of promoting human pleasure or convenience, at once by the more definite nature of its commands, and by the sterner character of its sanctions. (Mill, 2008; p. 201)
Kant, education and the injustice of the particular Kant writes of the difficulties of a ‘separate individual’ making their way ‘out of the immaturity which has become almost second nature to him’ (Kant, 1991: 54). He claims: ‘There is more chance of an entire public enlightening itself’ (Kant, 1991: 55). He goes on: ‘For enlightenment of this kind, all that is needed is freedom’, and by freedom he means the ‘freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters’ (original emphasis, Kant, 1991: 55). Kant writes: ‘Men will of their own accord gradually work their way out of barbarism so long as artificial measures are not deliberately adopted to keep them in it’ (Kant, 1991: 59).
Russell: education is where the young learn to step forth, to become part of the world, and realise their human ‘capacity to strike out a wholly new line’ (Russell, 1932: 14). Mike Oliver (1996: 79): the education system failed disabled children in that it has neither equipped them to exercise their rights as citizens nor to accept their responsibilities... the special education system has functioned to exclude disabled people not just from the education process but from mainstream social life. To separate one from mainstream school, from mainstream social life, is to deny one an opportunity to make public use of one’s reason in all matters’ (original emphasis, Kant, 1991: 55).
References Barrows, R. (2001) Inclusion vs. Fairness, Journal of Moral Education, 30(3),235-242. Berlin, I. (1969) Two concepts of liberty, in: Four essays on liberty (Oxford, Oxford University Press) Kant, I. (1990) Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, (London, Macmillan) Kant, I. (1991) Kant, Political Writings, (Ed.) Hans Reiss (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press) Mill, J. S. (1972) Utilitarianism, On Liberty, and Considerations on Representative Government (London: Dent and Sons Ltd.) Mill, J. S. (1946) On Liberty (London and Oxford: Basil, Blackwell and Mott) Mill, J.S. (1985) On liberty (London, Penguin) Mill, J. S. (2008) On Liberty and other essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press) Oliver, M. (1996) Understanding Disability: From Theory to Practice (London, Macmillan)