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‘Radical’ Pedagogy Requires ‘Conservative’ Epistemology

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Abstract

Many defences of multiculturalist educational initiatives conjoin a‘liberal’ or ‘radical’ moral/political view—that education should endeavour to treat students with respect, and that respecting non-dominant,‘marginalised’ students requires protecting them from the hegemonic domination of the dominant culture—with what appears to be an equally radical epistemological view, according to which respecting minority students and cultures requires respecting their culturally specific epistemologies, which in turn requires refraining from imposing upon them a dominating hegemonic epistemology concerning the nature of truth, rational justification, and so on. In this paper I argue (1) that this‘radical’ epistemological position is fatally flawed; and (2) that, if true, it would undermine, rather than undergird, the favoured moral l political view. I argue, that is, that proponents of‘radical’ pedagogy would do better to reject the associated‘radical’ epistemological view in favour of a more traditional,‘conservative’ one.

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... It is possible, however, that after giving due consideration we can justifiably determine that some claims do not have normative force or warrant the same epistemic status as others. If public institutions do away with reciprocal obligations to justify public knowledge claims with public reasons and evidence, they become unable to credibly marginalize unreasonable views or effectively establish that purported victims of injustice are actually victims, for such claims would also require some sort of publicly assessible, reasoned justification (Siegel, 1995). ...
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