Human capital, education and the promotion of social cooperation: A philosophical critique

Tal Gilead*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)555-567
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Economics
  • Education
  • Human capital
  • Philosophy
  • Social cooperation


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