Martha Nussbaum’s influential capabilities theory advocates that each and every individual should be able to function according to certain key indicators of the good life: living to a natural death; bodily health; bodily integrity; senses, imagination and thought; emotions; practical reason; affiliation with other humans; harmonious living with other species and nature; play; control over one’s political and material environment. In this essay, I seek to critique Nussbaum’s capabilities approach to development issues on the grounds that the liberal means she suggests are insufficient to attain her liberal ends. My argument is that, while we should not reject the capabilities approach, inadequacies in current nation-states’ democratic practices jeopardize the legitimacy of any state action aimed at promoting capabilities within disempowered communities. I claim that Nussbaum’s liberalism leads her to identify the correct end-in-sight for political action, but constrains her account of political implementation.
|Title of host publication||The Capability Approach on Social Order|
|Subtitle of host publication||Proceedings of Unseld Lecture 2010|
|Editors||Niels Weidtmann, Yanti Martina Hölzchen, Bilal Hawa|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 19 Mar 2012|
|Name||Interdisciplinary Research Works at FORUM SCIENTARIUM|