Strengthening the capability approach : the foundations of the capability approach, with insights from two challenges
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The Capability Approach was initially developed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, with the first basic articulation presented in his 1979 ‘Equality of What?’ Tanner Lecture. Since then, the approach has gained a huge amount of attention as a conceptual framework which offers a clear and insightful way to measure well-being and development. Most recently, the approach has been refined and extended by Martha Nussbaum to issues of disability, nationality, and species membership in political philosophy. This project is about the foundations of the capability approach. More specifically, this project asks whether we can, and whether there are good reasons to, strengthen those foundations. The conclusions drawn here are that we ought to think seriously about the way that the capability approach develops as a theory that responds to real world challenges and change. More importantly, this project contends – in light of the challenges of future people and indigenous peoples – that there is good reason to think of new ways to ground the approach. This project takes up this challenge and grounds the approach in a modified version of Tim Mulgan’s approach to well-being. This project demonstrates that this alternative enriches the capability approach by providing us with a way of making sense of important problems, and with options for moving forward. Overall, this project asks important questions about how the capability approach could evolve based on challenges that remain relatively under-explored in the current literature. This project contributes to this literature by demonstrating that we can and ought to strengthen the capability approach and its ability to understand, take on board, and resolve these challenges.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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