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Martha Nussbaum, the Capabilities Approach to quality of life

Martha Nussbaum, the Capabilities Approach to quality of life

Slides for an Introduction to Philosophy course at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada. These slides focus on parts of Nussbaum's 1997 article entitled "Capabilities and Human Rights."

philosophy
Nussbaum
capabilities

Christina Hendricks

March 14, 2018
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  1. Martha Nussbaum
    The “capabilities approach”
    PHIL 102, UBC
    Christina Hendricks
    Spring 2018
    Except images licensed otherwise, this presentation is licensed CC BY 4.0

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  2. Questions she is addressing
    • How should we evaluate quality of life?
    • What does this say about how we should help
    those in need?
    Image licensed CC0 from pixabay.com
    Image licensed CC0 from pixabay.com

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  3. Vasanti’s story
    Nussbaum starts Creating Capabilities: The Human
    Development Approach (2011) with the story of
    Vasanti
    India 2011-07-18 at 07-24-
    24, Flickr photo by José
    Antonio Morcillo, licensed
    CC-BY

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  4. Common approaches to
    considering quality of life
    “Capabilities Human and Rights” (1997)
    What do you think might be good ways to
    measure people’s quality of life around the world?

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  5. GNP or GDP
    Problems:
    • Doesn’t consider
    distribution
    • Too narrow a
    measure
    Image licensed CC0 from pixabay.com

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  6. Utilitarian approaches
    (based on preference satisfaction)
    Problems:
    • Also doesn’t consider distribution
    • “adaptive preferences” (283)—can reinforce
    inequalities
    Friends image , chocolate image , rock climber image licensed CC0 from pixabay.com

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  7. Distribution of basic rights & resources
    John Rawls: rights & resources
    that all rational individuals would
    desire, so that even the least
    well off have a minimum level
    Problem:
    Having the rights & resources is
    not enough; social
    circumstances differences in
    ability & opportunity to use them
    (284)

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  8. The capabilities approach
    What Nussbaum advocates

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  9. Basics of this approach
    Asks: what are people “actually able to do
    and to be?” (285)
    There are certain
    capabilities
    required to live
    well/flourish as a
    human, to live with
    human dignity
    (286)

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  10. Nussbuam’s list of
    ten central capabilities (287-288)
    Life
    Bodily health
    Emotions
    Affiliation
    Leisure/play
    Other species
    Bodily integrity
    Practical reason
    Senses, imagination, thought
    Control over
    environment:
    political & material
    Your views…?

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  11. Capabilities vs. Functioning
    Combined capabilities include both:
    • Internal capabilities: the internal ability to act (289)
    • External conditions: social opportunities &
    freedoms to express internal ability (290)
    Functioning: fulfilling one or more capabilities (289)

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  12. How differs from utilitarianism?
    Distribution:
    Not just what people prefer or what will give
    them pleasure, but focus on flourishing as a
    human, living a fully human life

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  13. Capabilities & Human Rights
    (optional parts of article)
    • Capabilities can
    clarify what “human
    rights” are (292-294)
    • Emphasize both
    internal and external
    requirements for
    human rights Eleanor Roosevelt & the Universal Declaration on
    Human Rights (1948); public domain on
    Wikimedia Commons

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