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Civics Beyond CriticsCharacter Education in a Liberal Democracy$
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Ian MacMullen

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198733614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198733614.001.0001

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A qualified defense of status quo bias

A qualified defense of status quo bias

(p.210) Chapter 7 A qualified defense of status quo bias
Civics Beyond Critics

Ian MacMullen

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that status quo biases in civic education can be and often are justified. The chapter begins by acknowledging the considerable force of two objections to such biases: the fallibility and legitimacy objections. The rest of the chapter explores the various arguments that could jointly defeat these objections in particular cases. It shows the possibility of constructing compelling content-dependent reasons for status quo bias, i.e., reasons that invoke widespread beliefs about the substantive merits of existing institutions, notwithstanding the fallibility objection. And it identifies four reasons that appeal not to the substantive merits of the institutions favored by status quo bias but merely to the fact that those institutions are the status quo: these content-independent reasons generate important arguments from stability, contentment, compliance, and civic identification.

Keywords:   status quo bias, civic education, stability, compliance, civic identification, fallibility, legitimacy, progress

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