Development of the Self-Concept

Philosophical and Psychological Reflections
  • Ger Snik
  • Wouter van Haafien
  • Johan de Jong
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 11)


The contextualistic self-concept inherent in communitarianism and the individualistic self-concept of liberalism are usually deemed incompatible. One crucial point of difference is that communitarians consider standards of rationality as essentially tradition-dependent, whereas liberals think they can be tradition-transcendent. Ultimately, the liberal self can autonomously choose a conception of the good life; the communitarian self cannot. Jack Crittenden has argued that these irreconcilable self-concepts may nevertheless be integrated when interpreted as two stages in the development of the person. In this chapter we discuss the conditions on which such a ‘vertical’ or developmental integration is possible. It involves the acceptance of an amended liberal concept of the person, but we show that it can do justice to almost all of the communitarian views as well. We argue that the communitarian view, though true for most people most of their life time, cannot be maintained all along the line. The resulting integrative conception of the person is more realistic and preferable to both original views.

Key Words

autonomy commitment communitarianism conceptions of the good genetic structuralism identity integration liberalism self tradition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ger Snik
  • Wouter van Haafien
  • Johan de Jong

There are no affiliations available

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