This paper is concerned with the practical importance of different forms of paternalism for educational theory and practice. Contrary to the traditional treatment of paternalism as a sometimes necessary and rather messy aspect of educational practices, I demonstrate that paternalism is to be regarded as an “indigenous concept” (Herbart) of educational theory and as the ‘indigenous model of justification’ that underlies the structure of educational practices. Based on an analysis of the intricate nexus between autonomy-oriented forms of paternalism and educational forms of autonomy-based perfectionism I furthermore argue that a perfectionistically structured conception of autonomy provides a more adequate evaluative framework for justifying autonomy as an educational aim than alternative educational regimes of autonomy can deliver. Finally, I discuss some major theoretical problems of bridging the gap between general ethical principles and their application in practical fields.
- Moral pragmatics