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From Adam Swift to Adam Smith: How the 'Invisible Hand' Overcomes Middle Class Hypocrisy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor James Tooley


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This paper challenges Richard Pring's suggestion that parents using private education may be undermining the desire for social justice and equality, using recent arguments of Adam Swift as a springboard. Swift's position on the banning of private schools, which uses a Rawlsian 'veil of ignorance' argument, is explored, and it is suggested that, if equality of opportunity is a major aim, it does not go far enough by permitting parental partiality. If the only alternative is a Platonic state, then this may be acceptable. But a neglected third scenario, drawing on the insights of Adam Smith, shows 'self-love' to be a valuable social virtue, leading to a more favourable resolution of the 'paradox of the shipwreck' than that explored by Swift. Pointers are given to evidence from developing countries and a more detailed 'veil of ignorance' argument to support this case. © 2007 Journal of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tooley J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Philosophy of Education

Year: 2007

Volume: 41

Issue: 4

Pages: 727-741

Print publication date: 01/11/2007

ISSN (print): 0309-8249

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9752

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2007.00599.x


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