HDRO Conference Room
30 noviembre 2009
Time: 12:30- 2:00 p.m.
I will explore three ways in which approaches that center on Amartya Sen’s notion of capabilities are importantly incomplete, and need supplementation and adjustment by reference to other kinds of considerations. Although it has been noted that Sen’s capability approach does little to explore issues of social independence, it is insufficiently understood that this limitation is built in to his understanding of the concept of a capability and his differentiation between opportunity freedoms (including capabilities) and process freedoms. I will lay out these connections to explain just how radical a shift it would be to try to integrate issues of strategic interdependence into a capability approach. How are capability indices meant to be useful? If they are intended as guides to policy, then there is a danger that they will encourage stupidity by ossifying policy-makers’ conceptions of their goals rather than encouraging them flexibly to remake their aims with due public input. The capability approach may also be intended to promote justice, as its emphasis on poverty suggests. But debates between, say, sufficientarian and prioritarian views about justice indicate that adopting a capability space of evaluating individuals’ opportunities for well-being is only the barest beginning of an approach to justice.
About the Speaker
Henry S. Richardson is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He earned graduate degrees in law and public policy at Harvard before getting his PhD there (under John Rawls) in 1986. He is the author of Practical Reasoning about Final Ends (Cambridge University Press, 1994) and Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy (Oxford University Press, 2002), winner of the Herbert A. Simon Best Book Award in Public Administration and the David Easton Award in the Foundations of Political Theory. He has recently engaged with the capabilities approach in “Rawlsian Social Contract Theory and the Severely Disabled,” The Journal of Ethics 10 (2006): 419-462 and “The Social Background of Capabilities for Freedoms,” Journal of Human Development 8 (2007): 389-414. He is the editor-at-large of the Human Development and Capability Association and the editor of Ethics.
HDR 2010 seminar series
The event will take place in the HDRO Conference Room, 304 East 45th Street, FF building 12th Floor. For more information, and to organize a building pass, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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