IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The constraint of instrumentality

22 June 2022, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Large crowd of people protesting, holding placards. Kester Muller/Pexels.

Join this event to hear Dr Rachel Wahl outline the potential dangers individual agency in democracy.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Paul Standish

To register for this webinar, please email p.standish@ucl.ac.uk before the event to receive joining instructions.

Enhancing agency is typically viewed as unquestionably good – and for good reason. Democracy requires engaged citizens who believe they have the ability and the responsibility to work toward justice.  

However, a focus on individual agency has a dark side. For if people feel that they can change the world, then they also often feel that they must. This can engender a perception that the individual is responsible for engineering outcomes. 

While important in certain circumstances, in other settings this can encourage an instrumental relationship to others and make it difficult to learn receptively, particularly from people with whom we disagree, and especially in moments of political crisis. 

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in philosophical enquiry into education.

PESGB seminar series

This event is part of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB) seminar series. PESGB is a learned society that promotes the study, teaching and application of philosophy of education. Its London Branch hosts seminars every Wednesday in conjunction with the Centre for Philosophy of Education. These seminars are led by national and international scholars in the field, covering a wide range of issues of educational and philosophical concern.

All are welcome to attend.

Related links

About the Speaker

Dr Rachel Wahl

Associate Professor at School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia

She is the author of Just Violence: Torture and Human Rights in the Eyes of the Police (Stanford University Press, 2017). Currently she is writing a book manuscript, tentatively titled No Bloodless Tool: Political Dialogue and the Search for Meaning, on the ethical and political implications of learning through dialogue in times of crisis. Her articles have been published in the Journal of Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory among others.