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Is it morally acceptable to send your child to a private school? Watch

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    (Original post by Joinedup)
    Afaik it's a result that been found by repeated studies spanning several years... there was another quite recently.
    I don't doubt the fact that the results are true and exist over several studies. I just don't think it necessarily indicates that private schools help children to get grades or university places by some method other than simply teaching them more effectively and increasing their academic ability. It also depends on which universities they go to, which subjects they're studying etc.

    meh - if you start changing things to make them more difficult to game you'll need to be changing them quite often... and the likelihood is the greater resources of private schools will keep their pupils ahead in the arms race anyway.
    I'm not really sure in what sense you think the system is being "gamed" already to be honest. You seem to be under the impression that the job of a private school is to "fool" the university admissions tutors and examiners into thinking that the pupil is academically capable (and given the rigorousness of Oxbridge interviews, I personally don't see how that's even possible), as opposed to teaching them well and actually making them academically capable.

    WRT the athletic analogy I'd say clearly we do care about what athletes do to make themselves faster - which is why we have in-training drug tests and it's a major news story when somebody famous fails these.
    I don't think there's really any moral difference between unfairly making yourself faster and unfairly making everyone else slower - just practically it's easier to concentrate on your own advantage in certain circumstances
    Athletics everyone agrees to the same rules, whereas with education it's imo a lot more difficult to work out what it is supposed to be there for and what the 'rules' ought to be.
    I think the drugs issue is totally separate. Certain drugs are banned, not merely because they enhance your performance, but also because they're potentially harmful to your body and can cause undesirable side effects. So they don't want to introduce them into the competition to the point that it's only possible to succeed by taking such drugs. This is an exceptional issue.

    Otherwise, doing what you can to improve your own athletic ability is perfectly fair, whether it's hiring a good coach, using better training facilities, eating healthy food etc.

    In terms of education, I don't see it as difficult to work out what it's there for. It's there to help people gain knowledge and understanding of various subjects so they can go on to put them to good use for the benefit of society. As such, it's never a bad thing to make yourself more educated or more capable of doing a certain job, because ultimately, society will benefit from it. If a doctor were about to perform surgery on you, you'd probably want him to have been educated in his field to the fullest possible extent, by any means necessary. That's in the public interest.
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    (1) It is perfectly legitimate for parents to spend money to acquire education for their children. Indeed I can hardly think of a more obviously legitimate expenditure. If you reach this conclusion, it is beside the point that other people are unable to make the same expenditure.

    (2) It does not make sense to oppose private acquisition of education unless you also oppose the idea of parents teaching their children themselves. If you accept that it is morally acceptable for intelligent, educated parents to try to educate their children directly, it does not make sense to say that it is morally unacceptable for wealthy parents to attempt to do the same thing via proxy. I have never seen anyone claim that parents should not do their best to educate their children directly.

    (3) It is, in my view, morally unacceptable to fail to acquire for your children advantages which you are able to acquire in order to make a completely empty gesture against a system that is going to carry on anyway. Your first duty as a parent is to your child.
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    Where state schools are at or near the top of league tables, property prices begin to rise. People with more money than others use that money to but properties in the right catchment areas. Is that morally acceptable?
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    Apologies if this question has been done before
    sending children outside of state education is perfectly acceptable for senior Labour Politicians... so why not for normal people ?
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    I come from a working class family, and my little brother goes to private school not because we are 'posh' or anything but because no state school in our area would accept him because he has extensive food allergies and learning difficulties. The only other option would have been to send him to a special needs school which was also where they tried to send me. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with SN schools but they would definitely not have suited my little brother.

    Therefore, would it have been morally acceptable to NOT send my little brother to private school, where he has thrived, is accepted and has become a happy little boy?
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    Absolutely. They can do what they want when they are adults. Until then they will shut their mouths and obey
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    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    (1) It is perfectly legitimate for parents to spend money to acquire education for their children. Indeed I can hardly think of a more obviously legitimate expenditure. If you reach this conclusion, it is beside the point that other people are unable to make the same expenditure.

    (2) It does not make sense to oppose private acquisition of education unless you also oppose the idea of parents teaching their children themselves. If you accept that it is morally acceptable for intelligent, educated parents to try to educate their children directly, it does not make sense to say that it is morally unacceptable for wealthy parents to attempt to do the same thing via proxy. I have never seen anyone claim that parents should not do their best to educate their children directly.

    (3) It is, in my view, morally unacceptable to fail to acquire for your children advantages which you are able to acquire in order to make a completely empty gesture against a system that is going to carry on anyway. Your first duty as a parent is to your child.
    1) The entire point is arguing against that position. If you argue that on the basis of equality of opportunity, and then unfair negative impact that private schools have on others, then parents are not free to spend money on education. Now if the system was fair and everyone had money that they could choose to spend on education, then it seems more reasonable for an individual to do so. But the reason why we might argue that it is unfair to spend money on your child is that it unfairly and unjustly hurts other childrens whose parents can not afford to pay.

    2 - 3) are roughly the same point so I'll argue them together.
    First, I want to contend your claim that 'first duty as a parent is to your child'. Yes we would expect your parents to care about your best interests to some degree, but that does not give you justification to do any means possible to ensure them. A basic example is that a parent is not justified to for example murder a competitors child to ensure their child wins a competition.

    Following from this, it is clear that a parent is allowed to care for their child's interest within reason. So for example reading to your child or teaching them life lessons might be viewed as within these boundaries. However actually sending them to a private school might be viewed as beyond reason as you are committing an act of harm on others.

    (I think you have raised one issue which is essentially that parents who can afford to send their child to a private school is going to be achieving a degree of advantage either way. However if you educate your child well and send them to a state school then they will still have a positive impact on the other children thus this act is less harmful than if you segregated them away with other well off children in a private school.)

    Finally, if you believe the system itself broken and immoral then I would argue that you morally obligated to do your part in reducing this injustice. Perhaps you still send your child to a private school (begrudgingly) but you should still make effort to change the broken system.
    (Original post by emiloujess)
    I come from a working class family, and my little brother goes to private school not because we are 'posh' or anything but because no state school in our area would accept him because he has extensive food allergies and learning difficulties. The only other option would have been to send him to a special needs school which was also where they tried to send me. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with SN schools but they would definitely not have suited my little brother.Therefore, would it have been morally acceptable to NOT send my little brother to private school, where he has thrived, is accepted and has become a happy little boy?
    There are a few arguments here as a response. The first argument is that it is only morally acceptable to send your child to a private school if the alternatives are inadequate. The second is perhaps your assumption of a SN school being inadequate for your brother is unjustified and that in reality it would have been sufficient. Note that SN schools are actually a seperate category altogether. For example we can make the argument that a SN school does not actually unfairly change the balance of opportunities for a standard student.
    (Original post by cheshiremum)
    Where state schools are at or near the top of league tables, property prices begin to rise. People with more money than others use that money to but properties in the right catchment areas. Is that morally acceptable?
    This is a seperate but related issue. If you agree that it is immoral for a a parent to send their child to a private school then you presumably believe that this is also morally unacceptable.
    I don't think it is as bad however.
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)

    There are a few arguments here as a response. The first argument is that it is only morally acceptable to send your child to a private school if the alternatives are inadequate. The second is perhaps your assumption of a SN school being inadequate for your brother is unjustified and that in reality it would have been sufficient. Note that SN schools are actually a seperate category altogether. For example we can make the argument that a SN school does not actually unfairly change the balance of opportunities for a standard student.
    .
    A SN school would have been inappropriate for my brother - you have no idea of our situation so don't even try and say that. My brother and I have the same needs (minus my brother's allergies) and I have been successful in mainstream education. Are you seriously trying to tell me that I would have had the same opportunities and I would have been where and who I am today if I had gone to an SN school where I would be treated differently and not challenged? We know someone whose child goes to an SN school and they have not been afforded the same opportunities as me or my brother despite them being the same age.
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    (Original post by emiloujess)
    A SN school would have been inappropriate for my brother - you have no idea of our situation so don't even try and say that. My brother and I have the same needs (minus my brother's allergies) and I have been successful in mainstream education. Are you seriously trying to tell me that I would have had the same opportunities and I would have been where and who I am today if I had gone to an SN school where I would be treated differently and not challenged? We know someone whose child goes to an SN school and they have not been afforded the same opportunities as me or my brother despite them being the same age.
    There's no need for this attitude. I am not claiming that you or your brother should have gone to a SN school. I am suggesting that many parents deem otherwise adequate schools as inadequate and use this justification to go private instead.

    You have to recognise that the whole point of a private school is that you have greater opportunities. On some level you are converting money into opportunities, so of course we would expect the private school to offer you better opportunities, perhaps to be 'challenged.' I'm not going to explcitly comment about your situation (I mean I don't really see why you bring up the situation in the first place if you are so defensive about discussing it), but one could certainly argue that even in such a situation you are unjustly harming other, poorer students who could not afford to send their son / brother to a private school.
    You can also think of it in terms of the adequacy argument in that clearly the state schools were not an option and the the SN school was inadequate for your situation. Perhaps justifies the action as more reasonable, although I don't think the adequacy argument is in general sufficient.
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    1) The entire point is arguing against that position. If you argue that on the basis of equality of opportunity, and then unfair negative impact that private schools have on others, then parents are not free to spend money on education.
    That's a fair comment. I guess I'm making two arguments there. The first is that the object of the spending, namely education, is a respectable and desirable end. It is a good in itself. The second is that you have no right to complain where people are spending money on objects that are legitimate in the above sense. That, I think, amounts to a complaint that you do not have (or that not everyone has) the same resources, which is not a complaint I recognise as particularly forceful.

    2 - 3) are roughly the same point so I'll argue them together.
    First, I want to contend your claim that 'first duty as a parent is to your child'. Yes we would expect your parents to care about your best interests to some degree, but that does not give you justification to do any means possible to ensure them. A basic example is that a parent is not justified to for example murder a competitors child to ensure their child wins a competition.

    Following from this, it is clear that a parent is allowed to care for their child's interest within reason. So for example reading to your child or teaching them life lessons might be viewed as within these boundaries. However actually sending them to a private school might be viewed as beyond reason as you are committing an act of harm on others.

    (I think you have raised one issue which is essentially that parents who can afford to send their child to a private school is going to be achieving a degree of advantage either way. However if you educate your child well and send them to a state school then they will still have a positive impact on the other children thus this act is less harmful than if you segregated them away with other well off children in a private school.)

    Finally, if you believe the system itself broken and immoral then I would argue that you morally obligated to do your part in reducing this injustice. Perhaps you still send your child to a private school (begrudgingly) but you should still make effort to change the broken system.
    You are accepting that it is legitimate for parents to take steps to give their children advantages that other children do not have. If you accept that, but question their right to acquire education for their children, I don't think your reasoning is clear, because the same reasoning should apply to each case: that it is not right for one child to be advantaged over another just because of his parents' resources, whether monetary, educational, or otherwise.

    Another way to put what is, I think, ultimately the same point is to say that your limit of 'within reason' is totally arbitrary, because you have no obvious measuring stick for determining what is a legitimate advantage and what is not. Nor do I think your murder example is particularly strong here. Murder is illegal regardless of your motivation, whereas what we are discussing is specific moral limitations on generally acceptable actions (i.e. expenditure of resources for services).

    Personally, I think people are generally entitled to enter into private dealings as they see fit, and I do not think that this general rule can be overturned without a clear and consistent reason.
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    Apologies if this question has been done before, I suspect however that most such threads regard the educational system as a whole.

    Here is an initial argument in opposition of the question:

    We presumably agree with the notion of equal opportunities for everyone. In particular, we expect children to be given equal opportunities regardless of their financial background since as children they can not influence this via merit / effort.

    Now schooling is a very important factor for university and job opportunities. Further, education can be thought of as an positional good in that how 'useful' it is depends on how much you have relative to others. As a result, since private schooling (on average) provides better schooling in exchange for money, we can think of private schools as converting money into greater opportunities. Now since opportunities are limited, then accounting for the positional nature of education means that by sending your child to a private school you are actively harming someone else's child. Essentially the argument is that this is not fair to those children whose parents could not afford to send their child to a private school and that you are unfairly advantaged.

    Since the action you are committing is unfairly causing harm to others, it is morally unacceptable to send your child to a private school.

    So how would you respond to such an argument, and what do you guys think?
    I do not see how one can say that it is immoral to purchase a service which it is lawful to provide for precisely the purpose for which it is provided.

    In other words the question is not a question of personal morality for parents but social and political morality for the community.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I do not see how one can say that it is immoral to purchase a service which it is lawful to provide for precisely the purpose for which it is provided.

    In other words the question is not a question of personal morality for parents but social and political morality for the community.
    Try telling that to the victims of pay day loan providers.
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    (Original post by BizzStrut)
    Try telling that to the victims of pay day loan providers.
    So are you suggesting that it is immoral to borrow from a payday lender?


    That is the equivalent of the argument that it is immoral to buy private schooling.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    So are you suggesting that it is immoral to borrow from a payday lender?


    That is the equivalent of the argument that it is immoral to buy private schooling.
    No, you're right. I didn't think that through very well.

    There is surely a hypothetical where buying x service is morally ambiguous. I shall think about it in the morning.
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    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    That's a fair comment. I guess I'm making two arguments there. The first is that the object of the spending, namely education, is a respectable and desirable end. It is a good in itself. The second is that you have no right to complain where people are spending money on objects that are legitimate in the above sense. That, I think, amounts to a complaint that you do not have (or that not everyone has) the same resources, which is not a complaint I recognise as particularly forceful.
    I'm only going to argue against your first statement, although I disagree with the latter as well.
    Education acts as a principle factor for jobs and university places. As a society we believe in a degree of equal opportunity of education regardless of financial background and as a result expect that education as a good is distributed fairly so that people from different backgrounds can all utilise their merit and effort to fairly apply for jobs and university places. If you convert money into educational advantage you break such a system.

    Secondly, suppose we take your view education as an intrinsically desireable good. Private schools negatively affect the educational attainment of state school students by robbing them of their best students (and parents), and giving them worst than fair chances for university and job places. If private schools themselves were banned then we would expect the state school system to be superior than it is right now. Essentially if the money invested in sending individual students to private schools was instead tunneled into fixing the system itself then even more 'good' could be created. From an individual parents perspective if they believe this then they have good reason to protest against such a system and recognise that sending their child to a private school is causing unfair harm to others.

    You are accepting that it is legitimate for parents to take steps to give their children advantages that other children do not have. If you accept that, but question their right to acquire education for their children, I don't think your reasoning is clear, because the same reasoning should apply to each case: that it is not right for one child to be advantaged over another just because of his parents' resources, whether monetary, educational, or otherwise.

    Another way to put what is, I think, ultimately the same point is to say that your limit of 'within reason' is totally arbitrary, because you have no obvious measuring stick for determining what is a legitimate advantage and what is not. Nor do I think your murder example is particularly strong here. Murder is illegal regardless of your motivation, whereas what we are discussing is specific moral limitations on generally acceptable actions (i.e. expenditure of resources for services).

    Personally, I think people are generally entitled to enter into private dealings as they see fit, and I do not think that this general rule can be overturned without a clear and consistent reason.
    The term 'within reason' wasn't meant to be so arbitrary apologies, it is more that properly addressing what cases are fine and what aren't would take an actual essay and a long discussion into legitimate parental partiality.

    Suppose i modify the example so that the parent takes great effort to sabatage the competition and hurt the chances of the other student. This is technically legal (depends on the situation) but we would still think this is unacceptable. Essentially the argument is that the degree that parents can act for their children is limited, and my argument is that private schools do not fall in within this limit due to the degree of harm it inflicts on others.

    With regards to private dealings, I think this sort of rule is acceptable under the condition it does not adversely affect others negatively, otherwise it is unclear.


    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I do not see how one can say that it is immoral to purchase a service which it is lawful to provide for precisely the purpose for which it is provided.

    In other words the question is not a question of personal morality for parents but social and political morality for the community.

    It is not directly contradictory to believe that private schools as a system are immoral, yet believe that in certain cases a parent can be morally justified to send their child to a private school. An example of such a case is when all state schools are completely awful, we might think it is within reason for a parent to send their child to a private school.

    If you believe that private schools as a system are fine, then the question posed would be trivial. However if you believe that private schools as a system are immoral, this does not necessarily provide a solution to the original question.

    This means that we would be dealing with two different questions;
    1) are private schools as a system immoral,

    2) is it morally acceptable for an individual parent to send their child to a private school
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    Apologies if this question has been done before, I suspect however that most such threads regard the educational system as a whole.

    Here is an initial argument in opposition of the question:

    We presumably agree with the notion of equal opportunities for everyone. In particular, we expect children to be given equal opportunities regardless of their financial background since as children they can not influence this via merit / effort.

    Now schooling is a very important factor for university and job opportunities. Further, education can be thought of as an positional good in that how 'useful' it is depends on how much you have relative to others. As a result, since private schooling (on average) provides better schooling in exchange for money, we can think of private schools as converting money into greater opportunities. Now since opportunities are limited, then accounting for the positional nature of education means that by sending your child to a private school you are actively harming someone else's child. Essentially the argument is that this is not fair to those children whose parents could not afford to send their child to a private school and that you are unfairly advantaged.

    Since the action you are committing is unfairly causing harm to others, it is morally unacceptable to send your child to a private school.

    So how would you respond to such an argument, and what do you guys think?
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    Hopefully this should put an end to this:


    'Equal opportunity' Is one of those phrases that sounds great, and is highly applicable to specific situations:

    But its one of the many equality concepts that should only be used in isolated cases, and cannot be extrapolated to a wider scale.

    As a society, striving for complete equality of opportunity, goes against our basic instincts to compete.

    It does not seem to, because you may think 'well, I want equality of opportunity, rather then equality of outcome.. i want everyone to start the same, they can still then compete and achieve based on their own merits after that.

    But in practice it does not work, because the singular overarching purpose to our competition and our lives is the strive to continue, to reproduce and then provide whats best for our children. This is the reward, its the reason we compete. By creating equality of opportunity for children, you are in fact creating equality of outcome for parents. You are saying to parents, no matter how hard you work, or how much you achieve.. It makes no difference in regards to supporting your child, as every child should get the same treatment'

    Thats where this all falls down. and why, even if they cant fully explain why, many people who are for equality, are against the idea of closing private schools. It creates an equality of outcome, which is something we have aimed to move past as an equality focused society.

    ---

    After all the idea that all children should have the same opportunities? It will never happen. Get rid of private schools and you only scratch the surface of childhood inequalities. You still have: disposable income, free time, location of where they live, education aiding equipment, and so so much more that is wealth-related and causes an inequality. Private-schools are just the tip of the iceberg, the most obvious example of a universal problem.

    I work as an educational consultant, for both private schools and state schools, a big part of my job is advising parents on the education of their child, and believe me - private school or no private school is not actually the issue that really matters. So many times its the effort the parent puts into extra teaching outside school, the equipment they can buy to inspire their children, trips to museums/abroad, time spent engaging their children in reading etc. All of these are often wealth-pedant, and especially time-dependent, but they are aspects that you are never going to create equality between children within.



    When you actually look at it, as a society in the Uk we have a very good system:

    We provide a base level of opportunity for every child born in the UK. The base-line standard, that all must receive.

    But then parents are free to add on top of that in any way they see fit for their child. Some add in a positive way, enhancing their children s education, and some in a negative way, taking away from their education.

    Our goal for moving forward is simple: Create more equality by raising the base-line standard of education provided by all children. Not by removing the ability of parents to enhance their own child's education.
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    The problem mostly resolves around the fact, a parent can always affect their childs education.

    The best way to do it would be to remove all control of education away from parents, with everyone receiving an identical education. However many issues arise and in it's complexities it often resolves to, whoever's parents can afford the best education should be the ones who receive it.

    Most behaviour is via socialisation, that meaning parents, peers, teachers etc etc. As such a choice of school means not only a difference in education or life chances, but can also directly affect their day to day behaviour. As such it is incredibl unfair to a poor child why the cannot have the better teachers, schools, friends, social group or parents who would raise them to be the very best the can be. By comparison it is very unfair for a poor child to be forced to receive poor parents, poor social groups, poor friends, poor schools and poor teachers.

    My personal opinion is it does less damage to lower the elites education than the heighten the masses. However it is wrong to limit a persons chance of success due to their better life situation, just as it is to lower a child success due to their lower start.

    Also it's a massive misconception to suggest effort = success.... any serious reliable study or even case study has failed to show this. Hell even the definition of "success" is controversial.
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)



    It is not directly contradictory to believe that private schools as a system are immoral, yet believe that in certain cases a parent can be morally justified to send their child to a private school. An example of such a case is when all state schools are completely awful, we might think it is within reason for a parent to send their child to a private school.

    If you believe that private schools as a system are fine, then the question posed would be trivial. However if you believe that private schools as a system are immoral, this does not necessarily provide a solution to the original question.

    This means that we would be dealing with two different questions;
    1) are private schools as a system immoral,

    2) is it morally acceptable for an individual parent to send their child to a private school

    Morality has both private and public aspects. What I do is governed by my moral values. What I expect of you is not governed by my moral code. I am not a dictator.

    What I expect of you is that your acts will conform to the moral code of the society of which we are both part. For the most part that public moral code is set out in law (not necessarily the criminal law; we regard adultery as immoral and reflect that not in requiring the stoning of adulterers but in making adultery a ground for divorce).

    Buying goods or a service that is lawful is prima facie moral. In certain circumstances it isn't when those goods or that service is bought for an ulterior motive. It is lawful to buy rat poison but immoral to do so to kill your wife. It is lawful to go and watch a children's' play. It is immoral to do so for sexual gratification.

    If you consider the existence of private schools to be immoral, then it is prima facie immoral for you (regarding only your private morality) to send your child to one. As you have explained, it is possible to decide that none the less sending your child to a private school is moral.

    However, you have no right to impose your private morality on me. You have no more moral authority over me to than to require me to refrain from what the law censures and to do what the law requires. My behaviour is moral because society permits the existence of private schools.

    If I personally consider private schools to be immoral, then you can charge me with hypocrisy which I can defend on the grounds that on the particular facts sending my child to a private school was a moral decision, but whether or not I am a hypocrite, that still cannot make my behaviour, in your eyes, immoral.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Morality has both private and public aspects. What I do is governed by my moral values. What I expect of you is not governed by my moral code. I am not a dictator.

    What I expect of you is that your acts will conform to the moral code of the society of which we are both part. For the most part that public moral code is set out in law (not necessarily the criminal law; we regard adultery as immoral and reflect that not in requiring the stoning of adulterers but in making adultery a ground for divorce).

    Buying goods or a service that is lawful is prima facie moral. In certain circumstances it isn't when those goods or that service is bought for an ulterior motive. It is lawful to buy rat poison but immoral to do so to kill your wife. It is lawful to go and watch a children's' play. It is immoral to do so for sexual gratification.

    If you consider the existence of private schools to be immoral, then it is prima facie immoral for you (regarding only your private morality) to send your child to one. As you have explained, it is possible to decide that none the less sending your child to a private school is moral.

    However, you have no right to impose your private morality on me. You have no more moral authority over me to than to require me to refrain from what the law censures and to do what the law requires. My behaviour is moral because society permits the existence of private schools.

    If I personally consider private schools to be immoral, then you can charge me with hypocrisy which I can defend on the grounds that on the particular facts sending my child to a private school was a moral decision, but whether or not I am a hypocrite, that still cannot make my behaviour, in your eyes, immoral.
    I don't agree with this. Simply because you are a law abiding system does not mean that the actions you commit are exempt (from others) of moral questioning. Perhaps I can not strictly enforce my moral code upon you, however I can still make personal moral judgements and explain why exactly I think your actions are wrong thus this conversation is still important.

    There are many actions that are legal. Tax avoidance is one them, yet many people have an extreme attitude towards this as evidenced by the Panama papers. We are still able to express moral judgements towards such actions, regardless of whether they are legal or not. If you are engaging in what I personally believe to be an (fundamental) evil, then even if it is legal it is within my rights to express this and have my moral views.

    For a more extreme example, suppose people around you were engaging in slaver, and suppose slavery was legal at this point. Now suppose i posed you the question of whether it was morally acceptable to have a slave. In the eyes of the law, yes this would be fine, however I would like to think we would be able to make comments about those who have slaves and argue why it is wrong.

    Do note that it is possible (or it can be argued) to believe that the private schools system is morally wrong yet send your own child to a private school without hypocrisy nor being morally wrong.
 
 
 
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