Although since the 1960s human capital theory has played a major role in guiding educational policy, philosophical issues that stem from this development have rarely been discussed. In this article, I critically examine how the idea that human capital should serve as a guide to educational policy making stands in relation to the role assigned to education in promoting social cooperation. I begin by exploring the conception of human conduct that underlies human capital theory. I then move to examine the conception of social cooperation that tacitly guides human capital theory and maintain that it could not be effectively defended. I, therefore, turn to examine alternative ways to combine between human capital theory and the promotion of social cooperation. My main argument is that under existing conditions there is a deep theoretical incompatibility between the philosophical foundations of human capital theory and the ways in which education seeks to promote social cooperation.
- Human capital
- Social cooperation