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Is The Capability Approach Paternalist?

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  • Carter, Ian

Abstract

Capability theorists have suggested different, sometimes incompatible, ways in which their approach takes account of the value of freedom, each of which implies a different kind of normative relation between functionings and capabilities. This paper examines three possible accounts of the normative relation between functionings and capabilities, and the implications of each of these accounts in terms of degrees of paternalism. The way in which capability theorists apparently oscillate between these different accounts is shown to rest on an apparent tension between anti-paternalism (which favours an emphasis on capabilities) and anti-fetishism (which favours an emphasis on functionings). The paper then advances a fourth account, which incorporates a concern with the content-independent or ‘non-specific’ value of freedom. Only the fourth account would remove all traces of paternalism from the capability approach. Whatever reasons advocates of the capability approach might have had for rejecting this fourth account, those reasons are not internal to the capability approach itself.

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  • Carter, Ian, 2014. "Is The Capability Approach Paternalist?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 75-98, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:ecnphi:v:30:y:2014:i:01:p:75-98_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2017. "Sen is not a capability theorist," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 1-19, January.
    2. Antoinette Baujard & Adrien Lutz, 2018. "The capacity to confuse: rescuing the Saint-Simonian notion of ability from modern capability theories of social justice," Working Papers 1837, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    3. Kibel, Mia & Vanstone, Meredith, 2017. "Reconciling ethical and economic conceptions of value in health policy using the capabilities approach: A qualitative investigation of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 195(C), pages 97-104.

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