Recently, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have developed the capabilitiesapproach to provide a model for understanding the effectiveness of programs to help the developing nations. The approach holds that human beings are fundamentally free and have a sense of human dignity. Therefore, institutions need to help people enhance this dignity by providing them with the opportunity to develop their capabilities freely. I argue that this approach may help support business ethics based on virtue. Since (...) teleology has become problematic, virtue ethics has had difficulty giving itself an ultimate justification. By combining virtue ethics with the capabilitiesapproach, it becomes possible to ground virtue ethics on the basis of the existence of human dignity. This frees virtue ethics of the need for a strict teleology, replacing it with the notion that people must work to develop the capabilities of others although those capabilities are not pointed toward a definite goal. I further suggest that by grounding virtue ethics in capabilities, the actions of a virtuous manager become clearer. Rather than simply charging a manager with serving the public, the manager is charged with serving the stakeholders in a way that develops their capabilities. For example, a manager should not just give their employees what is just but must give them the environment and the encouragement to grow and to find fulfillment in their job. (shrink)
This article explores the possible convergence between the capabilitiesapproach and utilitarianism to specify CSR. It defends the idea that this key issue is related to the anthropological perspective that underpins both theories and demonstrates that a relational conception of individual freedoms and rights present in both traditions gives adequate criteria for CSR toward the company's stakeholders. I therefore defend "relational capability" as a means of providing a common paradigm, a shared vision of a core component of human (...) development. This could further lead to a set of indicators aimed at assessing corporate social performance as the maximization of the relational capability of people impacted by the activities of companies. In particular, I suggest a way of evaluating the contribution of extractive companies to the communities close to their industrial sites in extremely poor areas, not from the viewpoint of material resources and growth, but from the viewpoint of the quality of the social environment and empowerment. (shrink)
In this paper, I assess Martha Nussbaum's application of the capabilitiesapproach to non-human animals for both its philosophical merits and its potential to affect public policy. I argue that there are currently three main philosophical problems with the theory that need further attention. After discussing these problems, I show how focusing on factory farming would enable Nussbaum to demonstrate the philosophical merits of the capabilitiesapproach as well as to suggest more powerful and effectives changes (...) in our public policies. (shrink)
I explore the usefulness of Martha Nussbaum's capabilitiesapproach in regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD aims at empowering people with disabilities by granting them a number of civil and political, but also economic, social and cultural rights. Implementing the CRPD will clearly be politically challenging and also very expensive for states. Thus, questions might arise as to whether the requirements set in the CRPD can be justified from an (...) ethical perspective. I will first investigate if Nussbaum's capabilitiesapproach provides support for the rights claimed in the CRPD. Second, I will investigate to what extent Nussbaum's capabilitiesapproach is a useful tool to set priorities among rights in the course of the implementation of the convention. This is an urgent question because seen realistically, it will not be possible to realize all rights at once and thus some rights need to receive greater priority than others. I will argue that the capabilitiesapproach can be regarded as supporting the rights specified in the CRPD, but that it proves unable to guide the implementation process due to an insufficient grounding of the capabilities. Employing the capabilitiesapproach thus leads to only limited results. (shrink)
This first part of this article critiques Sridhar Venkatapuram's conception of health as a capability. It argues that Venkatapuram relies on the problematic concept of dignity, implies that those who are unhealthy lack lives worthy of dignity, sets a low bar for health, appeals to metaphysically problematic thresholds, fails to draw clear connections between appealed-to capabilities and health, and downplays the importance/relevance of health functioning. It concludes by questioning whether justice entitlements should pertain to the capability for health versus (...) health achievements, challenging Venkatapuram's claims about the strength of health entitlements, and demonstrating that the capabilitiesapproach is unnecessary to address social determinants of health. (shrink)
The idea of personalized nutrition is to give tailored dietary advice based on personal health-related data, i.e. phenotoype, genotype, or lifestyle. PN may be seen as part of a general trend towards personalised health care and currently various types of business models are already offering such services in the market. This paper explores ethical issues of PN by examining how PN services within the contextual environment of four future scenarios about health and nutrition in Europe might affect aspects of social (...) justice according to Martha Nussbaum’s capability approach. The scenarios have been created by a mixed group of stakeholders and experts in three consecutive workshops. This resulted in the definition of four future scenarios within a scenario space consisting of two variables: the ‘logic of health care systems’ and ‘conception of health’. Within each scenario, PN is likely to play a more or less important role in improving health by influencing food consumption patterns in society. Nussbaum’s capability approach implies a concept of social justice as a function of a minimum standard of human dignity. This denotes an account for equality in terms of a minimum of entitlements. However, also the ability of achieving individual objectives is essential for social justice. Personalisation advice in health and food consumption patterns, as aimed for by PN, is therefore acceptable provided a minimum of entitlements is guaranteed to all members of a society, and at the same time freedom concerning personal preferences is respected. Potential variation of how different people might benefit from PN should therefore be consistent with the minimum required as defined by the list of capabilities. (shrink)
The concept of dignity plays a foundational role in the more recent versions of Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities theory. However, despite its centrality to her theory, Nussbaum’s conception of dignity remains under-theorised. In this paper we critically examine the role that dignity plays in Nussbaum’s theory by, first, developing an account of the concept of dignity and introducing a distinction between two types of dignity, status dignity and achievement dignity. Next, drawing on this account, we analyse Nussbaum’s conception of dignity (...) and contrast it with Kant’s conception of dignity. On the basis of this comparison between Nussbaum and Kant, we highlight tensions between Nussbaum’s Aristotelianism, which is central to her conception of dignity, and her commitment to political liberalism. This leads us to conclude that Nussbaum’s claim that her conception of dignity is only a partial political conception is implausible and that her conception of dignity seems to commit her to a satisficing form of perfectionist liberalism. (shrink)
According to Martha Nussbaum, treating animals justly is a matter of guaranteeing each individual those capabilities up to a minimum threshold that are essential for flourishing as a member of a particular species. Nussbaum’s basic theoretical framework is acceptable; however, a capability which Nussbaum thinks is not essential for the flourishing, the opportunity to kill as a part of exercising predatory instinct, may in fact be essential for predator flourishing. Nussbaum ought to be concerned with the possibility that this (...) capability is essential, since if it is, it is likely that in doing less harm than good we will also be treating some predators unjustly by denying them the opportunity to flourish. (shrink)
In this major book Martha Nussbaum, one of the most innovative and influential philosophical voices of our time, proposes a kind of feminism that is genuinely international, argues for an ethical underpinning to all thought about development planning and public policy, and dramatically moves beyond the abstractions of economists and philosophers to embed thought about justice in the concrete reality of the struggles of poor women. Nussbaum argues that international political and economic thought must be sensitive to gender difference as (...) a problem of justice, and that feminist thought must begin to focus on the problems of women in the third world. Taking as her point of departure the predicament of poor women in India, she shows how philosophy should undergird basic constitutional principles that should be respected and implemented by all governments, and used as a comparative measure of quality of life across nations. (shrink)
In order to develop a model of equitable and sustainable distribution, this paper advocates integrating the ecological space paradigm and the capabilitiesapproach. As the currency of distribution, this account proposes a hybrid of capabilities and ecological space. Although the goal of distributive justice should be to secure and promote people’s capabilities now and in the future, doing so requires acknowledging that these capabilities are dependent on the biophysical preconditions as well as inculcating the ethos (...) of restraint. Both issues have been highlighted from the perspective of the ecological space paradigm. Concerning the scope of distributive justice, the integration can combine the advantages of the ecological space paradigm regarding the allocation of the responsibilities involved in environmental sustainability with the strength of the capabilitiesapproach regarding people’s entitlements. The pattern of distribution starts from a capability threshold. In order to achieve this threshold, ecological space should be provided sufficiently, and the remaining ecological space budget could then be distributed according to the equal per capita principle. (shrink)
Health services internationally struggle to ensure health care is ?person-centered? (or similar). In part, this is because there are many interpretations of ?person-centered care? (and near synonyms), some of which seem unrealistic for some patients or situations and obscure the intrinsic value of patients? experiences of health care delivery. The general concern behind calls for person-centered care is an ethical one: Patients should be ?treated as persons.? We made novel use of insights from the capabilitiesapproach to characterize (...) person-centered care as care that recognizes and cultivates the capabilities associated with the concept of persons. This characterization unifies key features from previous characterisations and can render person-centered care applicable to diverse patients and situations. By tying person-centered care to intrinsically valuable capability outcomes, it incorporates a requirement for responsiveness to individuals and explains why person-centered care is required independently of any contribution it may make to health gain. (shrink)
In this paper, we present a Capabilities -based Approach to the acceptability and the tolerability of risks posed by natural and man-made hazards. We argue that judgments about the acceptability and/or tolerability of such risks should be based on an evaluation of the likely societal impact of potential hazards, defined in terms of the expected changes in the capabilities of individuals. Capabilities refer to the functionings, or valuable doings and beings, individuals are able to achieve given (...) available personal, material, and social resources. The likely impact of a hazard on individuals’ capabilities should, we argue, be compared against two separate thresholds. The first threshold specifies the minimum level of capabilities attainment that is acceptable in principle for individuals to have in the aftermath of a hazard over any period of time. This threshold captures the level that individuals’ capabilities ideally should not fall below. A risk is acceptable if the probability that the attained capabilities will be less than the acceptable level is sufficiently small. In practice, it can be tolerable for some individuals to temporarily fall below the acceptable threshold, provided this situation of lower capabilities attainment is temporary, reversible, and the probability that capabilities will fall below a tolerability threshold is sufficiently small. This second, tolerable threshold delimits an absolute minimum level of capabilities attainment below which no individual in a society should ever fall, regardless of whether that level of capabilities attainment is temporary or reversible. In this paper, we describe and justify this Capabilities -based Approach to the acceptability and tolerability of risks. We argue that the proposed theoretical framework avoids the limitations in current approaches to acceptable risk. The proposed approach focuses the attention of risk analysts directly on what should be our primary concern when judging the acceptability and the tolerability of risks, namely, how risks impact the well-being of individuals in a society. Also, our Capabilities -based Approach offers a transparent, easily communicable way for determining the acceptability and the tolerability of risks. (shrink)
Theories of distributive justice are often criticised for either excluding people with disabilities from the domain of justice altogether, or casting them as deficient in personal attributes. I argue that the capabilitiesapproach to justice is largely immune to these flaws. It has the conceptual resources to locate most of the causes of disadvantage in the interaction between a person and her environment and in doing so can characterise the disadvantages of disability in a way that avoids the (...) imputation of natural deficiency. However, I also argue that the capabilitiesapproach cannot accommodate some of the stronger claims advanced by some disability scholars. No plausible capabilitiesapproach can guarantee that social change will always be the just or fair remedy for disadvantage, and there is a small number of severe cases of disability where capability shortfalls will be attributed to the person’s ‘deficient’ physical and mental impairments. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum has expanded the capabilitiesapproach to defend positive duties of justice to individuals who fall below Rawls’ standard for fully cooperating members of society, including sentient nonhuman animals. Building on this, David Schlosberg has defended the extension of capabilities justice not only to individual animals but also to entire species and ecosystems. This is an attractive vision: a happy marriage of social, environmental and ecological justice, which also respects the claims of individual animals. This paper (...) asks whether it is one that the capabilitiesapproach can really deliver. Serious obstacles are highlighted. The potential for conflict between the capability-based entitlements of humans and those of nonhuman animals or ‘nature’ is noted, but it is argued that this does not constitute a decisive objection to the expanded capabilitiesapproach. However, intra-nature conflicts are so widespread as to do so: the situation is outside the circumstances of justice as they are standardly understood. Schlosberg attempts to reconcile such conflicts by re-examining what it means to flourish as a sentient nonhuman animal. This fails, because of the distinction between flourishing as a species, which often requires predation, and flourishing as an individual, which is as frequently incompatible with it. Finally, the paper considers how a capabilities theorist might move beyond such conflicts, identifying two possible strategies (which are not themselves unproblematic) for reconciling the demands of humans, animals and ecosystems. (shrink)
This paper proposes a Capabilities -based Approach to guide hazard mitigation efforts. First, a discussion is provided of the criteria that should be met by an adequate framework for formulating public policy and allocating resources. This paper shows why a common decision-aiding tool, Cost-benefit Analysis, fails to fulfill such criteria. A Capabilities -based Approach to hazard mitigation is then presented, drawing on the framework originally developed in the context of development economics and policy. The focus of (...) a Capabilities -based Approach is protecting and promoting the well-being of individuals. Capabilities are dimensions of well-being and specified in terms of functionings. Functionings capture the various things of value an individual does or becomes in his or her life, including being alive, being healthy, and being sheltered. Capabilities refer to the real achievability of specific functionings. In the context of hazard mitigation, from a Capabilities -based Approach, decision- and policy-makers should consider the acceptability and tolerability of risks along with the affectability of hazards when determining policy formulation and resource allocation. Finally, the paper shows how the proposed approach satisfies the required criteria, and overcomes the limitations of Cost-benefit Analysis, while maintaining its strengths. (shrink)
This paper develops a framework for conceptualising social justice in education, drawing particularly on Martha Nussbaum's (2000) capabilitiesapproach. The practical case for consideration is that of widening participation and pedagogical implications in higher (university) education in England. While the paper supports the value and usefulness of Nussbaum's list of ten capabilities for developing a more radical and challenging language and practice for higher education pedagogies, it also argues that her approach is limited. Other ways of (...) conceptualising social justice are also required in order to develop adjudicating theories which enable us to judge which practices take us closer to social justice. An argument is made for 'bivalent' theorising which integrates individual and institutional development and agents and social structures. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum’s “influential capabilitiesapproach” offers us a powerful, universal standard of justice. The approach builds off of pioneering work by Amartya Sen in economic development. Much of the contemporary interest in the capabilitiesapproach has focused upon how we might spell out a list of precisely which capabilities must be made universally available and protected, a list that Sen has not provided himself. Nussbaum’s list of capabilities is arguably the most successful attempt (...) at defining these capabilities. In this paper, I will argue for a new problem with the approach that raises new questions about the capabilitiesapproach more generally. (shrink)
Disability & Justice: The CapabilitiesApproach in Practice is an interdisciplinary examination of the practical application of the capabilitiesapproach viewed through the lens of the experience of disability. Careful and critical examination of vital foundational concepts is undertaken prior to contextualizing the experience of disability and how we might begin to promote an inclusive society through an application of the capabilitiesapproach.
With the creation of the European Higher Education Area, universities are undergoing a significant transformation that is leading towards a new teaching and learning paradigm. The competencies approach has a key role in this process. But we believe that the competence approach has a number of limitations and weaknesses that can be overcome and supplanted by the capabilitiesapproach. In this article our objective is twofold: first, make a critical analysis of the concept of competence as (...) it is being used in higher education, identifying its limitations and weaknesses; and second, present the potential of the capabilitiesapproach for higher education and review its complementarity to the competence approach.We begin with a brief characterisation of the capabilitiesapproach and its implications for education. Then we examine some implications of the competencies approach in higher education and the reasons that led us to choose the DeSeCo proposal for comparison with the capability approach. We then go on to compare the two approaches, addressing 1) the aims of education and 2) the concept of competence and capability. Finally, we address the implications of incorporating the capabilitiesapproach in learning and teaching in higher education. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum grounds her version of the capabilitiesapproach in political liberalism. In this paper, we argue that the capabilitiesapproach, insofar as it genuinely values the things that persons can actually do and be, must be grounded in a hybrid account of liberalism: in order to show respect for adults, its justification must be political; in order to show respect for children, however, its implementation must include a commitment to comprehensive autonomy, one that ensures that (...) children develop the skills necessary to make meaningful choices about whether or not to exercise their basic capabilities. Importantly, in order to show respect for parents who do not necessarily recognize autonomy as a value, we argue that the liberal state, via its system of public education, should take on the role of ensuring that all children within the state develop a sufficient degree of comprehensive autonomy. (shrink)
Science and technology are key to economic and social development, yet the capacity for scientific innovation remains globally unequally distributed. Although a priority for development cooperation, building or developing research capacity is often reduced in practice to promoting knowledge transfers, for example through North–South partnerships. Research capacity building/development tends to focus on developing scientists’ technical competencies through training, without parallel investments to develop and sustain the socioeconomic and political structures that facilitate knowledge creation. This, the paper argues, significantly contributes to (...) the scientific divide between developed and developing countries more than any skills shortage. Using Charles Taylor’s concept of irreducibly social goods, the paper extends Sen’s CapabilitiesApproach beyond its traditional focus on individual entitlements to present a view of scientific knowledge as a social good and the capability to produce it as a social capability. Expanding this capability requires going beyond current fragmented approaches to research capacity building to holistically strengthen the different social, political and economic structures that make up a nation’s innovation system. This has implications for the interpretation of human rights instruments beyond their current focus on access to knowledge and for focusing science policy and global research partnerships to design approaches to capacity building/development beyond individual training/skills building. (shrink)
According to Martha Nussbaum’s capabilitiesapproach (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, as specified by a ‘species norm’ dictating the central capabilities typical to an animal’s kind. Although Nussbaum (2006) does not extend the CA beyond sentient creatures, I will argue .. (shrink)
In the Proceedings that emerged from the Second International Workshop on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level, Sandoe, Christiansen, & Appleby challenged participants to ponder four fundamental questions:a. What is the baseline standard for morally acceptable animal welfare?b. What is a good animal life?c. What farming purposes are legitimate?d. What kinds of compromises are acceptable in a less-than-perfect world?Continued reflection on those questions warrants examination of the shape of our modern agricultural ethic. It also calls for (...) a reexamination of recent work by Nussbaum on extending the capabilitiesapproach to animals and the interface of Nussbaum's work with Rollin's scholarship on telos . The resources of narrative ethics are summoned to navigate the above-mentioned questions and to explore how Nussbaum's approach and Rollin's notion of animals' natures relate to the main storyline associated with developments in agriculture. (shrink)
This article clarifies how the freedom of thought as a human right can be understood and promoted as a right of mental health service users, especially people with psychotic disorder, by using Martha Nussbaum’s capabilitiesapproach and Fulford’s and Fulford et al ’s values-based practice. According to Nussbaum, freedom of thought seems to primarily protect the capability to think, believe and feel. This capability can be promoted in the context of mental health services by values-based practice. The article (...) points out that both Nussbaum’s approach and values-based practice recognise that people’s values differ. The idea of involving different actors and service users in mental healthcare is also common in both Nussbaum’s approach and values-based practice. However, there are also differences in that values-based practice relies on a ‘good process’ in decision-making, whereas the capabilitiesapproach is oriented towards a ‘right outcome’. However, since process and outcome are linked with each other, these two approaches do not necessarily conflict despite this difference. The article suggests that absolute rights are possible within the two approaches. It also recognises that the capabilitiesapproach, values-based practice and human rights approach lean on liberal values and thus can be combined at least in liberal societies. (shrink)
When can ever be justified in banning a religious practice? This paper focusses on Martha Nussbaum's capabilitiesapproach. 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 (...) class='Hi'>approach cannot justify polygamy in any circumstance. Her approach rules out polygamy, but may not rule out all non-monogamous relationships, such as polyamory. Finally, I conclude that the capabilitiesapproach would benefit from a more robust understanding of recognition. (shrink)
This article clarifies how the freedom of thought as a human right can be understood and promoted as a right of mental health service users, especially people with psychotic disorder, by using Martha Nussbaum’s capabilitiesapproach and Fulford’s and Fulford _et al_’s values-based practice. According to Nussbaum, freedom of thought seems to primarily protect the capability to think, believe and feel. This capability can be promoted in the context of mental health services by values-based practice. The article points (...) out that both Nussbaum’s approach and values-based practice recognise that people’s values differ. The idea of involving different actors and service users in mental healthcare is also common in both Nussbaum’s approach and values-based practice. However, there are also differences in that values-based practice relies on a ‘good process’ in decision-making, whereas the capabilitiesapproach is oriented towards a ‘right outcome’. However, since process and outcome are linked with each other, these two approaches do not necessarily conflict despite this difference. The article suggests that absolute rights are possible within the two approaches. It also recognises that the capabilitiesapproach, values-based practice and human rights approach lean on liberal values and thus can be combined at least in liberal societies. (shrink)
Throughout the 1990-ies Nussbaum, in collaboration with others, has elaborated and argued for a list of human capabilities which specifies necessary conditions of human flourishing. The capabilitiesapproach has been enormously influential in putting issues of global development and justice, and especially justice for women, on the philosophical and political agenda. Moreover, many international agencies and institutions, including the United Nations Development Program, have started to make use of this approach. Despite of its obvious good intentions (...) the approach deserves more serious critical attention from philosophers than it has received until now. In my paper I take up some fundamental problems with Nussbaum’s philosophical framework. I will argue that Nussbaum’s conception of human nature is still (implicitly) Cartesian and, more in particular, that her conception of reason is outdated. It raises problems with respect to the question of universal values, the possibility of which Nussbaum defends by reference to the faculty of reason. (shrink)
With our state-guaranteed or internationally recognized human rights, liberalism is rather a common basis of political discussion today. John Rawls’s theory of justice, which set a framework for liberal theory of justice in the last decades of the twentieth century, is notably contractarian. Martha Nussbaum, although claiming to be a neo-Aristotelian, argues that her capabilitiesapproach (hereafter CA) can upgrade the liberal theory of justice, particularly that of political liberalism, to deal with unsolved problems of justice, namely, disability, (...) nationality, and species membership. However, this paper argues that her proposal issuccessful only when her CA-based theory proves its affiliation with political liberalism in more detail. As defined by Rawls, political liberalism produces “free-standing” political conceptions and rejects any metaphysical or religious ideas. It halts conceptions of justice that promote conceptions of good derived from particular comprehensive doctrines. I do not believe a mere convergence between CA and contractarianism is sufficient enough to secure the rational acceptability of her CA-based theory. I suggest that if she wishes to maintain her CA-based theory’s being politically liberal, she either has to prove more of the public, in particular the global public, acceptability of her intuitive ideas of human dignity without relying on her intuitions or alter the meaning of political liberalism itself so that it allows a room for some sort of comprehensive doctrine. (shrink)
Over the last two decades, the capabilitiesapproach has become an increasingly influential theory of development. It conceptualises human wellbeing in terms of an individual's ability to achieve functionings we have reason to value. In contrast, the African ethic of ubuntu views human flourishing as the propensity to pursue relations of fellowship with others, such that relationships have fundamental value. These two theoretical perspectives seem to be in tension with each other; while the capabilitiesapproach focuses (...) on individuals as the locus of ethical value, an ubuntu ethic concentrates on the relations between individuals. In this article, we ask: to what extent is the capabilitiesapproach compatible with this African ethical theory? We argue that, on reflection, relations play a much stronger role in the capabilitiesapproach than often assumed. There is good reason to believe that relationality is part of the concept of a capability itself, where such relationality has intrinsic ethical value. This understanding of the ethical centrality of relations grounds new normative perspectives on the capabilitiesapproach, and offers a more comprehensive grasp of the relevance of relationships to empirical enquiry. (shrink)
Over the last two decades, the capabilitiesapproach has become an increasingly influential theory of development. It conceptualises human wellbeing in terms of an individual's ability to achieve functionings we have reason to value. In contrast, the ethic of ubuntu views human flourishing as the propensity to pursue r¬elations of fellowship with others, such that relationships have fundamental value. These two theoretical perspectives seem to be in tension with each other. While the capabilitiesapproach seems to (...) focus on individuals as the locus of ethical value, an ubuntu ethic concentrates on the relations between individuals as the locus. In this article, we ask, to what extent is the capabilitiesapproach compatible with this African ethical theory? We argue that, on reflection, relations play a much stronger role in the capabilitiesapproach than often assumed. There is good reason to believe that relationality is part of the concept of a capability itself, where such relationality has intrinsic ethical value. This understanding of the ethical centrality of relations grounds new normative perspectives on capabilities, and offers a more comprehensive grasp of the relevance of relationships to empirical enquiry. (shrink)
A purely theoretical analysis of Martha Nussbaum’s basis of the capabilitiesapproach in feminist (rather than more broadly liberal humanist) justice yields a philosophical project that may appear inconsistent, if not incoherent. However, I suggest in this paper that when the reader considers the project’s very concrete aims, there surfaces an intelligible reason for the apparent incongruities between her feminist and liberal commitments. Since even a capabilitiesapproach rooted in feminist justice is itself radical and must (...) win political support in order to be implemented, I suggest that Nussbaum’s basis of the approach in feminist justice can perhaps be understood as a canny attempt to win support for her project on politically popular grounds, using the rhetoric of sex and social justice that has already been embraced by current economic powers. Once arguments based on morally irrelevant differences between sexes are politically endorsed, it will perhaps be easier to argue for the directly parallel moral irrelevance of differences based on accident of birth into the underdeveloped world. (shrink)
En este artículo se estudia el enfoque de las capacidades de Martha Nussbaum como un intento de fundamentar la inclusión de los anima les no humanos dentro de la dimensión cívica de los derechos. En esta perspectiva se pretende establecer ciertos «deberes directos de justicia» para los seres sentientes, poseedores de cierta complejidad, que el Estado debe cautelar y procurar como un mínimo exigido. Tras analizar esta propuesta, se desarrollan algunas de las críticas originadas por la «ética animal» defendida por (...) Nussbaum, entre las que se cuentan las de Donaldson, Kymlicka, Smith, Cortina y Schlosberg. This paper describes the capabilitiesapproach Martha Nussbaum as an attempt to justify the inclusion of non-human animals within the civic rights dimension is studied. In this perspective is to establish certain «direct duties of justice» for sentient beings, possessors of some complexity, that the State must seek precautionary and as a minimum requirement. After analyzing this proposal, they develop some of the criticism caused by the «animal ethics» defended by Nussbaum, among which are counted Donaldson, Kymlicka, Smith, Cortina and Schlosberg. (shrink)
Although Nussbaum’s “CapabilitiesApproach” clearly expresses a commitment to objectivity, this article argues that this commitment is rather ambiguous due to the conception of public reason it endorses. In particular, the CA cannot account for an objective justification of public reason, given certain characteristics of public reason. As a result, the CA jeopardizes the substantive aim it has set itself: to provide an objective justification for public choices regarding human capabilities and their specifications.
ABSTRACTThis essay brings Martha Nussbaum's politically liberal version of the CapabilitiesApproach to human development into critical dialogue with the Catholic Social Tradition. Like CST, Nussbaum's focus on embodiment, dependence and dignity entails a social use of property which privileges marginalized people, and both theories explain the underdevelopment of central human capabilities in social rather than exclusively material terms. Whereas CST is metaphysically and theologically ‘thick', however, CA is ‘thin’: its proponents positively eschew metaphysical commitments, believing a (...) commitment to quasi-Rawlsian ‘overlapping consensus' is more consistent with political liberalism. This creates two tensions between CA and CST. The first is that CST understands the internal virtues of essentially social practices to be inseparable from their concrete instantiation in actual communities, while CA sometimes describes these virtues as political entitlements which can be supported independently o... (shrink)
This paper develops a framework for conceptualising social justice in education, drawing particularly on Martha Nussbaum's capabilitiesapproach. The practical case for consideration is that of widening participation and pedagogical implications in higher education in England. While the paper supports the value and usefulness of Nussbaum's list of ten capabilities for developing a more radical and challenging language and practice for higher education pedagogies, it also argues that her approach is limited. Other ways of conceptualising social (...) justice are also required in order to develop adjudicating theories which enable us to judge which practices take us closer to social justice. An argument is made for 'bivalent' theorising which integrates individual and institutional development and agents and social structures. (shrink)
This paper explores what insights can be drawn from critical theory to enrich and strengthen Sen’s capability approach in relation to technology and human development. The two theories share some important commonalities: both are concerned with the pursuit of “a good life”; both are normative theories rooted in ethics and meant to make a difference, and both are interested in democracy. The paper provides a brief overview of both schools of thought and their applications to technology and human development. (...) Three areas are identified where critical theory can make a contribution to the capability approach: conceptually, by providing a critical account of individual agency and enriching the concept of technology beyond the simplistic notion of commodities; methodologically, by sensitising towards reification and hegemony of scientific tools, and, finally, by emphasising reflexivity of researchers. (shrink)
We evaluate the suitability of Nussbaum's substantive account of capabilities in light of conceptual and empirical work that has shown that positivity is widely valued and pursued as an end by many people, and evidence that positive outcomes, even economic ones, are often caused by well-being rather than the other way around. While Nussbaum sees positive emotions as incidental to the experience of well-being, we argue that the experience of such mental states is partly constitutive of flourishing.
The capability approach described by Amartya Sen illustrates the multiple aspects of injustice in such fields as racially motivated sexual harassment or segregation in urban space. In response to Sen’s pointing out that we should focus not simply on institutions but also on the social realizations they engender, the article illustrates the function of the natural and social environments for racial groups in affecting the distribution of resources necessary to secure justice.
This book sets out to generate new ways of reflecting ethically about the purposes and values of contemporary higher education in relation to agency, learning, public values and democratic life, and the pedagogies which support these.