Public Reason: Vol. 7, No. 1-2, 2015
Liberal Education and Self-Fulfilment
Ileana Dascălu

Liberal education is a value-loaded notion which raises questions regarding the conditions and limits of promoting self-fulfilment within a broader conception of justice. The communitarian critique of rights-based liberalism reveals a tension between, on one hand, the maximizing, normative conception of liberal education and, on the other, the limited mandate of social and political institutions to foster its achievement. The aim of this paper is to argue against a minimalist conception of liberal education, as it seems to derive from rights-based liberalism, especially political liberalism. Drawing on the writings of John Rawls and Michael Oakeshott, some insights into the purposes of liberal education are identified and discussed. Nevertheless, although both authors suggest that self-fulfilment, as it could be promoted by liberal education, is an ideal worth cultivating, their vantage points do not help clarify the conceptual framework in which self-fulfilment could be coherently addressed. The last section of the paper attempts to argue in favour of interpreting liberal education within the conceptual framework of aspiration-fulfilment and capacity-fulfilment, as it was developed by Alan Gewirth.

Key words: liberal education, communitarianism, Rawls, Oakeshott.


Dascălu, Ileana. 2015. Liberal Education and Self-Fulfilment. Public Reason 7 (1-2): 53-66.