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Amartya Sen's capability approach to equality : is it capable of accommodating human diversity?

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Amartya Sen's capability approach to equality : is it capable of accommodating human diversity?

Ellis, Bonni (1999) Amartya Sen's capability approach to equality : is it capable of accommodating human diversity? Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The development of Amartya Sen's capability approach to equality was motivated (at least in part) by the shortcomings which he perceived in the egalitarian models presented by his predecessors; namely, John Rawls and utilitarians. Sen's greatest criticism of these theories was that they failed to recognize the pervasiveness of human diversity and, as a result, were unable to accommodate the distinct needs created by such differences. These deficiencies, according to Sen, suggested that both projects had misidentified the appropriate space in which to evaluate human flourishing and advantage. Rather than measuring relative equality through an index of our stock of primary goods (Rawls) or by relying solely on the accuracy of subjective evaluations of our conditions (utilitarianism), Sen proposed that we should instead focus on what people could succeed at doing and being with the commodities at their disposal. To this end, he recommended a framework which evaluated people's ability to access the valuable "characteristics" of these commodities. Due to his essentialist definition of characteristics, however, I will argue that Sen's own egalitarian project fails to answer the very criticism which provided the impetus for his work: like the models provided by Rawls and utilitarians, Sen's own theory fails to fully accommodate the spectrum of needs created by human diversity.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Ellis, Bonni
Pagination:v, 88 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Philosophy
Date:1999
Thesis Supervisor(s):Nielsen, Kai
ID Code:905
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:15
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:17
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