Ben-Porath, Sigal R.

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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Publication
    Civic Virtue Out of Necessity: Patriotism and Democratic Education
    (2007-03-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.
    In this paper I argue for considering patriotism as a civic virtue, and in particular I defend the view that patriotism should be endorsed under certain conditions as a perspective suitable for teaching in public schools. My argument begins with an exposé to the debate on patriotism as virtue between those who endorse it as a requisite of morality and those who reject it as an abomination. I defend a position which describes patriotism as a civic virtue rather than a primary moral virtue. ['why a virtue?']. Next I consider what it means to be a citizen in times of war, focusing on the changing conceptions and manifestations of patriotism under fire ['why a necessity?'] I proceed to suggest that the qualified notion of patriotism which I defend should affect the way public schools create citizens, particularly in times of war ['why in schools?']. By 'affect' I do not mean a wholehearted endorsement; rather I mean a sincere consideration, which starts from public schools' basic democratic commitments, but nonetheless acknowledges the moral realities of a society at war, among them the heightened sense of the love of country.
  • Publication
    Citizenship in Wartime
    (2006-01-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.
    When a democracy enters a period of war or overt security threats, its citizens' lives are affected in many ways. Their feelings about their country can be transformed; public and political distinctions between "us" and "them" shift; citizens' expectations from the government can be revised in light of what they perceive as their most urgent interests. The public agenda often becomes preoccupied with security issues; the public sphere is rearranged around these newly defined focal points. Many issues, including immigration, criminal law, demography, free speech, and artistic expression, to name but a few, become part of the security discourse. Access to information about some of these matters is constrained accordingly. These changes can broadly be described as a shift from an open, democratic notion of citizenship to a narrow conception of the relations between state and individual, which I term "belligerent citizenship." This chapter will trace some of the basic alterations in the conceptualization of citizenship that occur in times of war or conflict, as a basis for constructing a qualified notion of civic education.
  • Publication
    Radicalizing Democratic Education: Unity and Dissent in Wartime
    (2003-01-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.
    In the summer of 2002, Israeli students took their final exams toward a high-school diploma. At seventeen or eighteen, just before gaining their voting rights and beginning their military service, the civic studies exam confronted them with the question: “explain why conscientious objection is subversive.” With the stroke of a pen, decades of democratic deliberation on the balance between conscience and compliance, between majority rule and minority dissent, were eradicated. The students were presented with the conclusion, veiling a demand to condemn soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories. At a culminating point of their civic education, they were expected to explain why opposing the decisions of a democratic government, in the context of war, is treacherous.
  • Publication
    Introduction to Varieties of Sovereignty and Citizenship
    (2012-01-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.; Smith, Rogers M.
  • Publication
    Exit Rights and Entrance Paths: Accommodating Cultural Diversity in a Liberal Democracy
    (2010-12-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.
    The debate over the accommodation of culture in liberal democracies tends to emphasize exit rights. Autonomy is typically taken as a pre-condition for exit, and public schools are often charged with promoting or facilitating it. I argue that diversity liberals have a more justifiable viewthan that of autonomy liberals on cultural accommodation, but diversity liberalism too should reframe its view of exit rights. Narrow exit rights that protect basic human rights should be maintained and augmented with entrance paths into general society. I further suggest that for exit rights along with entrance paths to provide the morally required conditions for accommodating culture while respecting freedom, policies in this realm should be designed to address adults rather than children. I consider the effect of this dual change of perspective on the accommodation of culture in democratic institutions, including schools.
  • Publication
    Taken out of Context: Defending Civic Education From the Situationist Critique
    (2015-01-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.; Dishon, Gideon
    Situationists have suggested that educational efforts to improve character and instill virtues should be abandoned, as individuals’ behavior is predicted by contexts and situations rather than by character traits. More recently it has been suggested that civic education and especially the effort to cultivate civic virtues are ineffective for similar reasons and should be replaced by the introduction of desirable social norms and institutions. After surveying the debate on this topic in the first part of the essay, we suggest that in fact virtues should not be judged as existing within one person and absent from another based on their behavior in a single instance. Rather, virtues should be understood as composite and probabilistic and therefore strengthening them is a valuable endeavor. In considering civic virtues specifically we argue that the social and public nature of their expression make schools excellent contexts for cultivating and practicing democratic civic virtues. Even the best institutional structures of a well- functioning democratic society rely on the compliance of virtuous citizens, and the situationist preference for desirable social norms is implicitly predicated on virtuous citizens to institute and follow those norms. Moreover, civic education in a democracy strives to cultivate more than compliance with norms of conduct. It aspires to nurture youth who see themselves as responsible to, and capable of shaping the norms of. the society in which they live. We thus incorporate some of the insights from situationism into a revamped view of civic education.
  • Publication
    To Choose or Not to Choose?
    (2010-01-01) Ben-Porath, Sigal R.
    But docs choice as constructed in contemporary theory and policy truly provide such a comprehensive response? This book is an attempt to critically examine some of the ways in which choice is framed in contemporary theory and policy, and to suggest an alternative framework that balances choice and intervention in order to better achieve the twin goals of equality and freedom. The critical appraisal of choice developed here is to be understood as a constructive effort to enhance the social and political setting of choice, rather than as a traditionalist (or other) attempt to justify a social order that gives little room for choice. I look at the landscape of choice in search of ways to more fully achieve the promise of choice, namely, equal standing and freedom for all members of society regardless of their contingent, or morally arbitrary, characteristics and circumstances.