The economic and epistemic division of labour: on Philip Kitcher’s The Main Enterprise of the World

Journal of Philosophy of Education 57 (2):400-408 (2023)
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In The Main Enterprise of the World, Philip Kitcher identifies an over-specialized and over-loaded curriculum as a particular affliction of education in our time. Kitcher criticizes a narrow view of education on which it is conceived as being no more than job training and proposes a more humane set of educational goals to be pursued in school. For Kitcher, the problem of the narrowness of the economic aims of education and the problem of the over-loaded curriculum are connected and, in Chapter 2 of the book, he presents a thoroughgoing critique of educational specialization as a distinguishing feature of education today. He holds that the economic value of education cannot capture education's full value and that true education should build children and young people's capacities for meaningful life and work. In this paper, I discuss Kitcher's critique of educational specialization. I note that Kitcher draws most of his inspiration from considerations about what makes a human life go well and therefore situates his thinking about education in the realm of ethics, rather than in his home discipline of the philosophy of science. Defending educational specialization, I turn to some of Kitcher's earlier work in the philosophy of science to show that the epistemic division of labour calls for a considerable degree of specialization in educational curricula on epistemic, rather than on economic, grounds.



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Ben Kotzee
University of Birmingham

Citations of this work

Continuing the conversation.Philip Kitcher - 2023 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 57 (2):444-456.

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References found in this work

The division of cognitive labor.Philip Kitcher - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):5-22.
Diversity and the Division of Cognitive Labor.Ryan Muldoon - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (2):117-125.
Pottering in the garden? On human flourishing and education.Doret J. De Ruyter - 2004 - British Journal of Educational Studies 52 (4):377-389.

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