Rawls, Race, and Education: A Challenge to the Ideal/Nonideal Divide

Educational Theory 65 (2):151-167 (2015)
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In this essay, Winston C. Thompson questions the rigidity of the boundary between ideal and nonideal theory, suggesting a porosity that allows elements of both to be brought to bear upon educational issues in singularly incisive ways. In the service of this goal, Thompson challenges and extends John Rawls's theory of justice as fairness, bringing it to bear upon education in our imperfect world. By showing that this representative work of ideal theory can be meaningfully supplemented and applied to the nonideal fact of race, this essay suggests that recognition of nonideal circumstances and theorizing need not void ideal theory's value to philosophy of education. Instead, the field can engage both ideal and nonideal theory on previously unavailable questions and dimensions of educational justice toward productive ends



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