Wellbeing, Freedom, and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-examined.

Author:Wisor, Scott
Position::Book review

Wellbeing, Freedom, and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-examined. By Ingrid Robeyns. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2017.

The capability approach is influential among both scholars and practitioners of international development. It is therefore striking that so much disagreement persists regarding what the capability approach is and that so little academic work has been done to carefully distinguish capabilities from other approaches to human development and theories of justice. First developed by Amartya Sen in 1979, the capabilities approach initially offered an alternative to economic measures of progress that were strictly monetary and philosophical theories of justice that focused on utility or resources rather than opportunities. In this new book, Ingrid Robeyns does scholars a considerable service by offering a rigorous, precise, and in many ways novel account of the capabilities approach. Among the new contributions, Robeyns develops a modular view of capabilities that distinguishes between what is a necessary component of a capabilities theory and what is optional. She also defends capabilities against some common critiques in the literature, often offering novel defense but accepting other trenchant criticisms.

I still have some unresolved questions regarding the capabilities approach, including what the normative and evaluative relation is supposed to be between capabilities...

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