November 26, 2011
INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ETHICS, pp. 692-698, H. LaFollette, ed., Oxford: Blackwell, 2013
Capabilities concern freedom and human dignity. A capability marks out an ability to do or be. If I possess a capability, then I have the ability to do an action (obtain food, speak freely, etc.) or to become a certain kind of person (self-directing, etc.). A capability is different from actual functioning because I may not choose to perform these actions or become these kinds of people. This approach offers a distinctive view about justice. Part of its focus is on freedom which takes the form of securing opportunities for persons to freely choose to satisfy capabilities. Another focus pertains to human dignity in that securing opportunities for capability satisfaction is thought to also best secure human dignity.
Keywords: capability, capabilities, capabilities approach, sen, Nussbaum, Robeyns, Richardson, freedom, development, feminism, social justice, equality, fairness
JEL Classification: A13, D71, G18, G28, H11, H41, I12, I32, K10, K00, K19, K30
Date posted: November 26, 2011 ; Last revised: April 11, 2013
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