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Civil Society

Civil Society

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Published by compatibilist

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Published by: compatibilist on Jan 12, 2010
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07/26/2010

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The most difficult chapter of this dissertation is the one that attempts to make a persuasive argument for a larger, more critical, more responsible role for the civil societyin the education of the child. The first part of the problem is defining “civil society.” By“civil society” I mean only institutions that are voluntary groups are not affiliated either with the government or market where those two powers are meant to mean somethinglike compulsion/coercion/policing on the one hand and the profit motive on the other. Inone sense, this chapter is central in the dissertation because it is the keystone of a
voluntaristic
theory. This theory rearranges the roles of all parties in the education process. Among all the players in education, “civil society” is by far the most nebulous:more amorphous than the parents-vs.-government paradigm that many market advocatesforesee; more complex than the apolitical children-and-teachers in the classroom storythat anchors much of the educational literature emanating from education schools. It’seven more complicated than a story which focuses on the dichotomy between bureaucrats, professional organizations, and their representatives for collective bargainingon wages and working conditions and public opinion, parents’ groups, and taxpayer organizations on the other hand.One of the main purposes of this dissertation is reorient and refocus the politicaltheory of education away from the current stakeholders, overly complex systems, andideologically-fraught baggage and reassign responsibilities towards real needs of children.Part of the reason that it’s difficult is an inherent difficult of social science/socialtheory: the lack of controlled experiments. Without controlled experiments, which aremostly off-limits due to ethical and epistemological concerns, there is bound to be asurfeit of irresponsible theorizing. The overabundance of unmoored theorizing stemsfrom everything from unexamined assumptions, ideological agenda, and overgenerousself-judgment about what qualifies as “common senses.” On the other hand, any attemptto avoid producing inadequately defended theories and rely instead on evidence is opento the allegations that the evidence is being misinterpreted. For instance, if someone is proposing a new type of state program based on a smaller but more successful version of 

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