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Martha Nussbaum on capabilities « Previous | |Next »
February 4, 2012

Martha Nussbaum discusses Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach with California Lawyer Magazine’s Martin Lasden.

Nussbaum describes the capabilities approach as a new theoretical paradigm in the development and policy world, which poses the questions: “What are people actually able to do and to be?” By starting from this question, we will shift the focus of policy and development analysis from resources (incomes at micro-level, and GDP per capita at national level) to people’s capabilities: the substantive freedoms or opportunities that are created by a combination of the abilities residing inside a person (like capacities and skills) with their social, economic and political environment.

Nussbaum uses the capabilities approach in constructing a theory of basic social justice. In her previous work, Nussbaum has developed a theory of universal fundamental political entitlements. Those entitlements are given, in general terms, by a list of ten central capabilities: Life; bodily health; bodily integrity; senses, imagination and thought; emotions; practical reason; affiliation; other species; play; and control over one’s environment (pp. 33-34). These entitlements impose duties on the governments, who must ensure that all people meet minimal thresholds of those capabilities.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:05 PM |