Humanity, virtue, justice: a framework for a capability approach

Abstract

This Thesis reconsiders the prospects for an approach to global justice centring on the proposal that every human being should possess a certain bundle of goods, which would include certain members of a distinctive category: the category of capabilities. My overall aim is to present a clarified and well-developed framework, within which such claims can be made. To do this, I visit a number of regions of normative and metanormative theorising. I begin by introducing the motivations for the capability approach, and clarifying some of its most distinctive features. Next, I focus on Martha Nussbaum's version of the approach, and identify several problems therein. The most important concerns epistemology, and especially the challenges that constructivist theories pose. The middle part of the Thesis presents an alternative, based on the work of John McDowell, which I argue has superior prospects. Then, I turn to two further problems: that of making sense of the universalistic aspirations of cosmopolitanism, and that of integrating the microscopic prescriptions of ethics with the macroscopic analyses of political philosophy. Using the Aristotelian interpretation of its core framework that I have developed, I conclude that the capability approach can provide compelling answers to important questions about global justice.

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Ben Bessey
University of Birmingham

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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