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Sugden's Critique of the Capability Approach




In comparing Sen's work with Mill's, Sugden criticizes Sen's capability approach because it may be applied in such a way that society or theorists judge what is best for people and potentially restrict liberty on that basis. Sugden cites Nussbaum's work as evidence in making his case. Sugden's critique of Sen's approach succeeds on a narrow reading of it. On that reading Sen is also critical of it because it does not leave enough room for liberty. On a broad reading, the critique has less force. Nussbaum's approach follows Mill in allowing people freedom to act on whatever desires they have if this does not harm others. This neutralizes the central element of Sugden's critique as it applies to her approach to some degree. Both Sen and Nussbaum nonetheless recognize the danger of illiberal restrictions in application which motivates Sugden's critique.

Suggested Citation

  • Qizilbash, Mozaffar, 2011. "Sugden's Critique of the Capability Approach," Utilitas, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(01), pages 25-51, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:utilit:v:23:y:2011:i:01:p:25-51_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Mozaffar Qizilbash, 2011. "Sugden’s critique of Sen’s capability approach and the dangers of libertarian paternalism," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(1), pages 21-42, March.
    2. Arif Wismadi & Mark Zuidgeest & Mark Brussel & Martin Maarseveen, 2014. "Spatial Preference Modelling for equitable infrastructure provision: an application of Sen’s Capability Approach," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 19-48, January.
    3. Malida Mooken & Roger Sugden, 2014. "The Capabilities of Academics and Academic Poverty," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 588-614, November.

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