Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice. (Wiki)

Is it consequent or illogical to argument that a Libertarian world view allows for illiteracy as a personal choice/freedom?

  • 1
    Sure, they would be opposed to enforcing literacy through government coercion. On the other hand, libertarians often emphasize the importance of informed decisions and educated populations, so, presumably, they would promote it by non-coercive means.
    – Conifold
    Aug 27 '19 at 8:04
  • interesting how /to which extent this should work :-) thanks
    – J. Doe
    Aug 27 '19 at 8:30
  • 2
    Freedom from literacy?
    – xiota
    Aug 27 '19 at 8:34

Libertarianism doesn't identify any particular set of ideas. It's a loose, opportunist political coalition that includes a lot of people with very different ideas. Some people under that label are against the welfare state, others are in favour of it in the form of policies like guaranteed minimum income. So there is libertarian political philosophy about anything. There is a widely varying set of ideas, some of which say some stuff about education.

Some of the traditions included under the label libertarian criticise government schooling


but they don't say much except that the state shouldn't run schools.

There is a detailed educational philosophy that takes individual liberty in education seriously - taking children seriously (TCS):



TCS holds that it is possible and desirable to raise a child without making him do anything against his will. A child learns by starting with problems, aspects of his life that seem unsatisfactory in some way. He then guesses solutions to those problems and criticises those solutions by the standard of whether they solve his problems. The child's parents try to help solve problems he's interested in rather then trying to impose their ideas about what he should learn.

TCS holds that a child should learn to read when he judges it's a good idea. A child might choose not to learn to read at a time when a school would be trying to force the child to learn to read. At that time, the child would be illiterate. Would some children remain illiterate permanently? It's difficult to see why when reading is so useful. For a discussion of how a child would learn maths without being forced, see


Under compulsory education, which is practiced in every country now including Western countries, many children don't learn to read at all and turn into illiterate adults, hence the need for classes to teach adults basic literacy. Also, many adults who would be considered literate by a school's standards don't understand what they read well enough to be able to discuss it. And most adults hate reading, so they don't get the benefits of literacy. This is all well known and most people don't give a shit and make no attempt to change what they're doing, including virtually all parents and teachers. So educational philosophies even in relatively advanced countries aren't judged by the standard of whether they produce or encourage literacy. So why should any liberal parenting philosophy like TCS be judged by that standard?

  • thank you @alanf much more to explore for me by your sources and references!
    – J. Doe
    Aug 27 '19 at 9:32

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