Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (4):151-171 (2013)

J. Paul Kelleher
University of Wisconsin, Madison
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. It does so by defending capability metrics while also criticizing the two most common arguments used to support them, and sympathetically reconstructing the arguments for resourcism. I ultimately argue that while sweeping defenses of the capability approach do not succeed, capability theorists can indeed vindicate the justice-relevance of certain capabilities while still accommodating what is plausible in resourcism
Keywords capabilities  resources  metrics of justice  distributive justice  Pogge  Sen
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/17455243-4681031
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What is the Point of Equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
Equality of What?Amartya Sen - 1987 - In John Rawls & Sterling M. McMurrin (eds.), Liberty, Equality, and Law: Selected Tanner Lectures on Moral Philosophy. University of Utah Press.
Beyond the Social Contract : Capabilities and Global Justice.Martha Nussbaum - 2005 - In Gillian Brock & Harry Brighouse (eds.), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism. Cambridge University Press.
Responsibilities for Poverty-Related Ill Health.Thomas W. Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 16 (2):71-79.
Relational Conceptions of Justice: Responsibilities for Health Outcomes.Thomas W. Pogge - 2001 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 46 (1):51.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

An Agency‐Based Capability Theory of Justice.Rutger Claassen - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1279-1304.
Health Inequalities and Relational Egalitarianism.J. Paul Kelleher - 2016 - In Rebecca L. Walker Mara Buchbinder & Michele Rivkin-Fish (eds.), Understanding Health Inequalities and Justice: New Conversations across the Disciplines. University of North Carolina Press.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rights, Goals, and Capabilities.Martin van Hees - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (3):247-259.
A Capability Approach to Justice as a Virtue.Jay Drydyk - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (1):23-38.
What is to Be Distributed?Rodney G. Peffer - 1998 - The Paideia Project.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,317 ( #3,535 of 2,455,623 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
65 ( #11,223 of 2,455,623 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes