Freedom in the space of equality: A response to certain liberal egalitarian objections to Amartya Sen's capabilities approach
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Egalitarians agree that some effort should be made to equalize advantages, but disagree about the terms upon which one should compare people's level of advantage. Amartya Sen's capabilities approach is a relatively recent contribution to that important debate. The capabilities approach evaluates and compares advantage in terms of persons' capabilities to do valuable acts or reach valuable states of being, called functionings. The concept of functioning overlaps with 'well-being' or 'welfare,' in that it connotes the satisfactory achievement of valued outcomes. Yet the concept of capability goes beyond well-being in connoting not only states of well-being, but the extent to which a person's agency is deepened and broadened by being capable of choosing from an ever greater field of functionings, viz, the various things he or she manages to do or be in leading a life. The capabilities approach can broadly be described as a species of liberal egalitarianism. As such, it cannot avoid engaging with critical debates on both liberty and equality, and has indeed attracted criticism on both fronts. This dissertation assesses the defensibility of the capabilities approach against two recent and quite different criticisms, which have yet to be substantially and directly responded to as such in the literature surrounding the capabilities approach. The first objection, which I term the 'anti-perfectionist objection' and which I discuss in chapter 2, holds that the capabilities approach is untenable from the point of view of liberal neutrality because, in being pressed to identify particular capabilities as relevant (and others as irrelevant) to inequality, it is inescapably preferential towards a particular conception or set of conceptions of the good life. The second objection, which is addressed in chapter 3, asserts that the capabilities approach, by advocating a pansocietal ranking of persons in terms of their overall capability, endorses a vertical conception of human diversity, viz., one which regards some people as inherently (though arbitrarily) better endowed overall than others. The objection concludes that such vertical conceptions are offensive to the modern ethos of democratic equality. This dissertation aims to refine, evaluate and propose responses to these two objections, both by critically evaluating their assumptions, and identifying how the capabilities approach can best address them.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Only published papers are available at libraries|
Similar books and articles
Colleen Murphy & Paolo Gardoni (2007). Determining Public Policy and Resource Allocation Priorities for Mitigating Natural Hazards: A Capabilities-Based Approach. Science and Engineering Ethics 13 (4):489-504.
J. Felix Lozano, Alejandra Boni, Jordi Peris & Andrés Hueso (2012). Competencies in Higher Education: A Critical Analysis From the Capabilities Approach. Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (1):132-147.
Jude Browne & Marc Stears (2005). Capabilities, Resources, and Systematic Injustice: A Case of Gender Inequality. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (3):355-373.
Alexander Bertland (2009). Virtue Ethics in Business and the Capabilities Approach. Journal of Business Ethics 84 (1):25 - 32.
Rolans Pierik & Robeyns Ingrid (2007). Resources Versus Capabilities: Social Endowments in Egalitarian Theory. Political Studies 55 (1):133.
Mozaffar Qizilbash (2006). Capability, Happiness and Adaptation in Sen and J. S. Mill. Utilitas 18 (1):20-32.
Philip Pettit (2001). Symposium on Amartya Sen's Philosophy: 1 Capability and Freedom: A Defence of Sen. Economics and Philosophy 17 (1):1-20.
Colleen Murphy & Paolo Gardoni (2010). Assessing Capability Instead of Achieved Functionings in Risk Analysis. Journal of Risk Research 13 (2):137-147.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads12 ( #104,704 of 1,008,710 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #64,702 of 1,008,710 )
How can I increase my downloads?