How to Value the Liberal Arts for Their Own Sake without Intrinsic Values

I argue that there is an important problem with framing the value of a liberal arts education through a contrast between intrinsic and instrumental value. The paper breaks down into three sections. First, I argue that the traditional divide between intrinsic and instrumental value conflates two pairs of related concepts and that distinguishing those concepts frees us from an important impasse found in contemporary discussions about the liberal arts. Second, I argue that a liberal arts education is only intelligible as a practice if we value it for its own sake. Third, I explain how we can value a liberal arts education as an end even if we reject the possibility of intrinsic value. I conclude with a brief statement of the practical implications my account has for the way we approach the liberal arts
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DOI 10.5840/pcw201017212
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