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The Aims of Higher EducationProblems of Morality and Justice$
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Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226259345

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226259512.001.0001

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Defending the Humanities in a Liberal Society

Defending the Humanities in a Liberal Society

(p.26) Three Defending the Humanities in a Liberal Society
The Aims of Higher Education

Christopher Bertram

University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers what kind of arguments in favor of the continued presence of the arts and humanities in higher education can be given that meet the test for liberal legitimacy. This test requires an argument to be cast in terms of reasons that all citizens could reasonably accept. The author proposes four such arguments. The first defends the value of the liberal arts on the grounds that they contribute not only to economic growth, but to individual and collective well-being conceived more broadly than in merely economic terms. The second argument defends the liberal arts as crucial for propagating robust democratic conversation amongst citizens. The third identifies the liberal arts as essential to providing individuals with a sufficient range of possible modes of life and with the tools necessary to evaluate their life choices. The fourth argument defends the liberal arts as providing forms of knowledge distinct from those achieved by the natural sciences.

Keywords:   liberal principle of legitimacy, well-being, democratic conversation, diversity, knowledge, life choices, natural sciences

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