Brigid Evans

‘Integration or Separation? Educational Justice Requirements for the Disabled’ (MA in Philosophy, 2018).

In academic political philosophy, there is currently much enthusiasm surrounding the development of integration as a requirement of social justice. The application of integration to educational policy already exists but has centred on overcoming racial and/or economic segregation. Integration as a moral ideal is yet to be fully tested with respect to the situation of disabled students, a small heterogeneous group with complex and diverse educational needs. Underdeveloped but well-intentioned skepticism about inclusion policy has arisen within education research. This thesis takes this skepticism seriously but seeks to build a constructive response. The concerns regarding integrating disabled students will be framed as a question of the just distribution of costs associated with bringing integration about. This will involve an assessment of whether integration’s costs are transitional or permanent, and whether they are necessary or contingent on institutional design. The resulting argument will posit the processes and conditions that can justly be imposed by integration, and on whom integration’s burdens ought to fall. It will be proposed that the primary duty of schools is to secure educational goods for students. Thus, integrating schools is unjust if it blocks the ability of schools to provide educational goods to the disabled. Here, a contingent justification for not integrating disabled students will arise from current non-ideal conditions. More positively, the thesis proposes that educational costs may be minimised by reforming the way in which teachers are trained. This training becomes necessary for teachers in already integrated schools as, without such training, they are unable to attend to their professional moral duties.

Supervisors: Dr Dan Halliday, Assoc. Prof. Karen Jones