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Equality and Capabilities

Edited by Theron Pummer (Oxford University, University of California, San Diego)
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  1. John M. Alexander (2010). Ending the Liberal Hegemony: Republican Freedom and Amartya Sen's Theory of Capabilities. Contemporary Political Theory 9 (1):5.
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  2. Carlo Argenton & Enzo Rossi (2013). Pluralism, Preferences, and Deliberation: A Critique of Sen's Constructive Argument for Democracy. Journal of Social Philosophy 44 (2):129-145.
    In this paper we argue that Sen's defence of liberal democracy suffers from a moralistic and pro-liberal bias that renders it unable to take pluralism as seriously as it professes to do. That is because Sen’s commitment to respecting pluralism is not matched by his account of how to individuate the sorts of preferences that ought to be included in democratic deliberation. Our argument generalises as a critique of the two most common responses to the fact of pluralism in contemporary (...)
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  3. Richard J. Arneson (2013). From Primary Goods to Capabilities to Well-Being. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (2):179-195.
    Amartya Sen?s The Idea of Justice (2009) mistakenly characterizes transcendental accounts of justice as being unable to compare non-ideal alternatives, and thus misfires as a criticism of Robert Nozick and John Rawls. In fact, Nozick?s disinterest in when rights may be overridden does not bespeak indifference to specific questions of comparative assessment, and Lockean rights do give determinate advice in everyday circumstances. Sen correctly reports that Rawls?s theory is defective at giving practical normative advice, but the basic problem is the (...)
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  4. Sandrine Berges (2011). Why Women Hug Their Chains: Wollstonecraft and Adaptive Preferences. Utilitas (1):72-87.
    In a recent article, Amartya Sen writes that one important influence on his theory of adaptive preferences is Wollstonecraft's account of how some women, though clearly oppressed, are apparently satisfied with their lot. Wollstonecraft's arguments have received little attention so far from contemporary political philosophers, and one might be tempted to dismiss Sen's acknowledgment as a form of gallantry. That would be wrong. Wollstonecraft does have a lot of interest to say on the topic of why her contemporaries appeared to (...)
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  5. Sandrine Berges (2007). Why the Capability Approach is Justified. Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):16–25.
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  6. Thom Brooks, The Capabilities Approach, Religious Practices, and the Importance of Recognition.
    When can ever be justified in banning a religious practice? This paper focusses on Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach. Certain religious practices create a clash between capabilities where the capability to religious belief and expression is in conflict with the capability of equal status and nondiscrimination. One example of such a clash is the case of polygamy. Nussbaum argues that there may be circumstances where polygamy may be acceptable. On the contrary, I argue that the capabilities approach cannot justify polygamy in (...)
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  7. Thom Brooks (2011). A New Approach. The Philosophers' Magazine 54 (54):110-111.
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  8. Thom Brooks (2011). Respect for Nature: The Capabilities Approach. Ethics, Policy and Environment 14 (2):143 - 146.
    Ethics, Policy & Environment, Volume 14, Issue 2, Page 143-146, June 2011.
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  9. H. G. Callaway (2008). Emerson and the Law of Freedom. In , R.W. Emerson, Society and Solitude: Twelve Chapters. Mellon Press.
    This paper is the expository and evaluative introduction to my new edition of Emerson's Society and Solitude, Twelve Chapters.
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  10. Rutger J. G. Claassen (2009). Institutional Pluralism and the Limits of the Market. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (4):420-447.
    This paper proposes a theory of institutional pluralism to deal with the question whether and to what extent limits should be placed on the market. It reconceives the pluralist position as it was presented by Michael Walzer and others in several respects. First, it argues that the options on the institutional menu should not be principles of distribution but rather economic mechanisms or ‘modes of provision’. This marks a shift from a distributive to a provisional logic. Second, it argues that (...)
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  11. Rutger Claassen & Marcus Düwell (2013). The Foundations of Capability Theory: Comparing Nussbaum and Gewirth. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):493-510.
    This paper is written from a perspective that is sympathetic to the basic idea of the capability approach. Our aim is to compare Martha Nussbaum’s capability theory of justice with Alan Gewirth’s moral theory, on two points: the selection and the justification of a list of central capabilities. On both counts, we contend that Nussbaum’s theory suffers from flaws that Gewirth’s theory may help to remedy. First, we argue that her notion of a (dignified) human life cannot fulfill the role (...)
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  12. Diana Coole (2010). Ending the Liberal Hegemony: Republican Freedom and Amartya Sen's Theory of Capabilities. Contemporary Political Theory 9 (1):5-24.
  13. Nelarine Cornelius & Nigel Laurie (2003). Capable Management. Philosophy of Management 3 (1):3-16.
    Martha Nussbaum is one of the most prolific and distinguished philosophers in the English-speaking world. Since 1995 she has been Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago appointed in the Law School, Philosophy Department and Divinity School. She is an Associate in the Classics Department and the Political Science Department, an Affiliate of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, a Board Member of the Human Rights Program and founder and Coordinator of a new (...)
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  14. Dale Dorsey (2008). Toward a Theory of the Basic Minimum. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (4):423-445.
    Many have thought that an important feature of any just society is the establishment and maintenance of a suitable basic minimum: some set of welfare achievements, resources, capabilities, and so on that are guaranteed to all. However, if a basic minimum is a plausible requirement of justice, we must have a theory — a theory of what, precisely, the state owes in terms of these basic needs or achievements and what, precisely, is the proper structure of the obligation to provide (...)
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  15. Ryan T. Fischbeck (forthcoming). On Sidgwick's "Luxury&Quot;. Ethics 125 (1).
    Traditionally, debate amongst egalitarians over equalisandum proposals—i.e. proposals as to what we ought to equalize—focused on two candidates: equality of welfare and equality of resources. Proponents of equality of resources, such as Ronald Dworkin, argue that we should reject equality of welfare because it allows for "expensive tastes". While the expensive tastes objection demonstrates the failings of equality of welfare, Amartya Sen argues that equality of resources is an equally insufficient equalisandum: what we need is something "in-between" welfare and resources (...)
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  16. Benjamin Franks (2008). Power, Capability and Ableness: The Fallacy of the Vehicle Fallacy. Contemporary Political Theory 7 (3):238-258.
  17. Katy Fulfer (2013). The Capabilities Approach to Justice and the Flourishing of Nonsentient Life. Ethics and the Environment 18 (1):19-38.
    According to Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach (CA) to justice, a (liberal) society is just if it provides people with the means to actualize basic capabilities that are necessary for a dignified human life. In Frontiers of Justice, Nussbaum (2006) expands the CA to include sentient nonhuman animals in the sphere of justice (as opposed, for instance, to the sphere of compassion). As it does for humans, justice requires that sentient creatures have the ability to access capabilities necessary for their flourishing, (...)
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  18. Katharine Gelber (2010). Freedom of Political Speech, Hate Speech and the Argument From Democracy: The Transformative Contribution of Capabilities Theory. Contemporary Political Theory 9 (3):304-324.
  19. Pablo Gilabert (2013). The Capability Approach and the Debate Between Humanist and Political Perspectives on Human Rights. A Critical Survey. Human Rights Review 14 (4):299-325.
    This paper provides a critical exploration of the capability approach to human rights (CAHR) with the specific aim of developing its potential for achieving a synthesis between “humanist” or “naturalistic” and “political” or “practical” perspectives in the philosophy of human rights. Section II presents a general strategy for achieving such a synthesis. Section III provides an articulation of the key insights of CAHR (its focus on actual realizations given diverse circumstances, its pluralism of grounds, its emphasis on freedom of choice, (...)
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  20. Peter Higgins, Audra King & April Shaw (2008). What is Poverty? In Rebecca Whisnant & Peggy DesAutels (eds.), Global Feminist Ethics: Feminist Ethics and Social Theory. Rowman & Littlefield.
    Invoking three desiderata (empirical adequacy, conceptual precision, and sensitivity to social positioning), this paper argues that poverty is best understood as the deprivation of certain human capabilities. It defends this way of conceiving of poverty against standard alternatives: lack of income, lack of resources, inequality, and social exclusion.
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  21. Keith Hyams (2009). A Just Response to Climate Change: Personal Carbon Allowances and the Normal-Functioning Approach. Journal of Social Philosophy 40 (2):237-256.
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  22. Finn Janning (2013). Who Lives a Life Worth Living? Philosophical Papers and Review 4 (1):8-16.
    For years, philosophers have thought about what makes a life worth living. Recent research in psychology has put new light on that. This paper places itself in-between philosophy and psychology, and the thoughts about well-being. The title of this paper raises one question: Who lives a life worth living? Based on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and subsidiary, recent studies in ‘positive psychology’, this work shows that the prerequisite for a life worth living is freedom; that is being free to (...)
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  23. R. Kamtekar (2002). Sex and Social Justice; Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. Philosophical Review 111 (2):262-270.
  24. J. Paul Kelleher (forthcoming). Capabilities Versus Resources. Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    What is the correct metric of distributive justice? Proponents of the capability approach claim that distributive metrics should be articulated in terms of individuals’ effective abilities to achieve important and worthwhile goals. Defenders of resourcism, by contrast, maintain that metrics should instead focus on the distribution of external resources. This debate is now more than three decades old, and it has produced a vast and still growing literature. The present paper aims to provide a fresh perspective on this protracted debate. (...)
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  25. Iain Law & Heather Widdows (2008). Conceptualising Health: Insights From the Capability Approach. [REVIEW] Health Care Analysis 16 (4):303-314.
    This paper suggests the adoption of a ‘capability approach’ to key concepts in healthcare. Recent developments in theoretical approaches to concepts such as ‘health’ and ‘disease’ are discussed, and a trend identified of thinking of health as a matter of having the capability to cope with life’s demands. This approach is contrasted with the WHO definition of health and Boorse’s biostatistical account. We outline the ‘capability approach’, which has become standard in development ethics and economics, and show how existing work (...)
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  26. Donovan Miyasaki (forthcoming). (2014) A Nietzschean Case for Egalitarianism. In Barry Stocker & Manuel Knoll (eds.), Nietzsche as Political Philosopher. Walter de Gruyter.
    This paper draws on Friedrich Nietzsche’s work to defend the (admittedly non-Nietzschean) conclusion that a non-liberal egalitarian society is superior in two ways: first, as a moral ideal, it does not rest on questionable claims about essential human equality and, second, such a society would provide the optimal psychological and political conditions for individual wellbeing, social stability, and cultural achievement. I first explain Nietzsche’s distinction between forms of egalitarianism: noble and slavish. The slavish form promotes equality, defined negatively as the (...)
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  27. Donovan Miyasaki (2013). Nietzsche's Will to Power as Naturalist Critical Ontology. History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (3):251-69.
    In this paper, I argue that Nietzsche’s published works contain a substantial, although implicit, argument for the will to power as ontology—a critical and descriptive, rather than positive and explanatory, theory of reality. Further, I suggest this ontology is entirely consistent with a naturalist methodology. The will to power ontology follows directly from Nietzsche’s naturalist rejection of three metaphysical presuppositions: substance, efficient causality, and final causality. I show that a number of interpretations, including those of Clark, Schacht, Reginster, and Richardson, (...)
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  28. Eric Nelson (2008). From Primary Goods to Capabilities: Distributive Justice and the Problem of Neutrality. Political Theory 36 (1):93 - 122.
    The capability approach to distributive justice, as defended by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, represents perhaps the most influential recent attempt to reconcile the competing demands of liberty and equality. Specifically, capability theorists have claimed that their insistence on the universal cultivation of a set of capabilities for basic human "functionings" is fully consistent with a liberal neutrality commitment. Their reason is that these capabilities are, like Rawls's primary goods, rational to want "whatever else one wants." This article suggests, in (...)
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  29. Martha Nussbaum (2001). Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. Cambridge University Press.
    Only a broad concern for functioning and capability can do justice to the complex interrelationships between human striving and its material and social context. IV. CENTRAL HUMAN CAPABILITIES The most interesting worries about ...
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  30. Mozaffar Qizilbash (2007). Social Choice and Individual Capabilities. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 6 (2):169-192.
    Amartya Sen has recently suggested that certain issues which arise in the application of the capability approach can be seen in terms of social choice. This article explores certain connections and tensions between Kenneth Arrow's celebrated discussion of social choice and the capability approach while focusing on one central link: pluralism. Given the variety of values people hold, substantive issues which arise in the application of the capability approach can be seen as social choice problems. Seeing them in this way (...)
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  31. Evan Riley (2011). Against Sen Against Rawls On Justice. Indian Journal of Human Development 5 (1):211-221.
    Amartya Sen has recently leveled a series of what he alleges to be quite serious very general objections against Rawls, Rawlsian fellow travelers, and other social contract accounts of justice. In The Idea of Justice, published in 2009, Sen specifically charges his target philosophical views with what calls transcendentalism, procedural parochialism, and with being mistakenly narrowly focused on institutions. He also thinks there is a basic incoherence—arising from a version of Derek Parfit’s Identity Problem—internal to the Rawslian theoretical apparatus. Sen (...)
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  32. Ingrid Robeyns (2010). The Capability Approach. The Philosophers' Magazine 50 (50):92-93.
  33. Maike Schölmerich (2013). On the Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Poverty in Cambodia in the Light of Sen's Capability Approach. Asian Journal of Business Ethics 2 (1):1 - 33.
    Abstract The debate on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been going on for decades, without leading to a clearer understanding of the term. Furthermore, the current literature on the topic remains relatively silent on the actual impact of CSR, especially the impact on issues of international development, for example poverty reduction in the Global South. By developing a conceptual assessment framework with a bipolar differentiated definition of CSR and a Sen-based notion of poverty, the article analyses the effects and impact (...)
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  34. David Sobel (2002). The Moral Importance of the Capability to Achieve Elementary Functionings. Apeiron (4):163-82.
  35. Marco Solinas (2009). Review of Richard Sennett, The Culture of the New Capitalism. [REVIEW] Humana.Mente 10:151-153.
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  36. L. W. Sumner (2006). Utility and Capability. Utilitas 18 (1):1-19.
    When Amartya Sen defends his capability theory of well-being he contrasts it with the utility theory advocated by the classical utilitarians, including John Stuart Mill. Yet a closer examination of the two theories reveals that they are much more similar than they appear. Each theory can be interpreted in either a subjective or an objective way. When both are interpreted subjectively the differences between them are slight, and likewise for the objective interpretations. Finally, whatever differences may remain are less important (...)
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  37. Kyle Swan (2012). Republican Equality. Social Theory and Practice 38 (3):432-454.
    Philosophers attracted to the republican ideal of freedom as nondomination sometimes offer the thought that a state concerned to promote this ideal would be more committed to economic justice than a liberal state pursuing freedom as noninterference. The republican commitment to economic justice is more demanding and its provisions are more substantial. These philosophers overstate republican redistributive commitments. The state need only provide a basic set of capabilities in order to achieve the republican goal, and concerns about domination in society (...)
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  38. M. van Hees (2013). Rights, Goals, and Capabilities. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (3):247-259.
    This article analyses the relationship between rights and capabilities in order to get a better grasp of the kind of consequentialism that the capability theory represents. Capability rights have been defined as rights that have a capability as their object (rights to capabilities). Such a definition leaves the relationship between capabilities and rights to a great extent underspecified since nothing is said about the nature of those rights. Hence, it is not precluded that they are mere negative liberties, something that (...)
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  39. Polly Vizard (2006). Poverty and Human Rights: Sen's 'Capability Perspective' Explored. OUP Oxford.
    'Poverty itself is a violation of numerous basic human rights.' (Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights) -/- The idea that freedom from poverty is a basic human right that gives rise to moral and legal obligations of governments and other actors has received increased international attention in recent years. Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has pushed the international agenda on poverty and human rights forward by characterizing extreme poverty as one of the (...)
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