The Political Conception as Educator

"Rawls' idea of the Political Conception as Educator"

European Journal of Political Theory, forthcoming
This paper explores John Rawls’ strangely neglected notion, the political conception as educator, which captures how the public political culture can educate citizens. The aim is to elucidate both the idea itself and above all its function in Rawls’ Political Liberalism. After first surveying its main content and some historical parallels, the main body of the paper explores why Rawls places so much trust in the educative effect of institutions and, apparently, so little in schools. Along the way we shall discuss the relation between political liberalism and republicanism, the border disagreement between political conception and comprehensive doctrine, Mackie’s distinction between wide and narrow morality, and the importance of trust in Rawls’ view of society.