The Social Background of Capabilities for Freedoms.

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  • Author(s): Richardson, Henry S.
  • Source:
    Journal of Human Development. Nov2007, Vol. 8 Issue 3, p389-414. 26p.
  • Additional Information
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      Martha Nussbaum has recently argued that "the language of capabilities ... gives important precision and supplementation to the language of rights." This claim raises the question whether the idea of capabilities, as she or as Amartya Sen has developed it, provides a basis for capturing or deriving basic liberties such as the liberty of employment or the freedom of movement. In this essay, I argue that the idea of capabilities is not useful in this way, because it cannot well capture the social, institutional, and deontic aspects of basic liberties. Sen's interpretation of capability is particularly limited in this regard, on account of its incorporation of the idea of dispositive freedom (the idea that someone's free choice will determine an outcome). While Nussbaum's interpretation of capability lacks that limitation, it lacks a way of modeling the kind of guaranteed social status of which basic liberties consist. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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