IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Is Sen's Capability Approach an Adequate Basis for Considering Human Development?

  • Des Gasper
Registered author(s):

    Sen's capability approach (SCA) has supported valuable work on Human Development (HD). It has brought attention to a much wider range of information on people's freedoms and well-being than in most earlier economic planning; but it also has troubling features and requires modification and enrichment. This paper first identifies the approach's components, the contributions of the HD Reports, and the doubts about whether SCA has a sufficient conception of human personhood to sustain work on HD beyond finding indices superior to GDP. It then examines SCA's central concepts. The concepts of capability and functioning lead us to consider both possibilities and outcomes, but their definition and use has been confusing. Besides Sen's opportunity concept of 'capability' we must distinguish skills and potentials; and distinguish levels and types of 'functioning'. To understand both consumerism and what can motivate and drive more humanly fulfilling development, we must elaborate different aspects and sources of 'well-being' and the content and requirements of 'agency', more than in Sen's chosen strategy. SCA's priority category of opportunity-capability must be read as a measure of personal advantage relevant in many public policy situations, rather than as a theory of well-being; and its concept of freedom must be partnered by concepts of reason and need.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0953825022000009898
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 435-461

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:14:y:2002:i:4:p:435-461
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/CRPE20

    Order Information: Web: http://www.tandfonline.com/pricing/journal/CRPE20

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. John Cameron, 2000. "Amartya Sen on economic inequality: the need for an explicit critique of opulence," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 1031-1045.
    2. Simonis, Udo Ernst, 1992. "Least developed countries: Newly defined," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship Environmental Policy FS II 92-404, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Good and bad growth: The human development reports," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 631-638, May.
    4. Vivian Walsh, 2000. "Smith After Sen," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 5-25.
    5. Sudhir Anand & Amartya Sen, 2000. "The Income Component of the Human Development Index," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 83-106.
    6. Ananta Kumar Giri, 2000. "Rethinking human well-being: a dialogue with Amartya Sen," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 1003-1018.
    7. Charles Gore, 1997. "Irreducibly social goods and the informational basis of Amartya Sen's capability approach," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 235-250.
    8. Richard Lipsey, 2001. "Successes and failures in the transformation of economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 169-201.
    9. Des Gasper, 2000. "Development as freedom: taking economics beyond commodities-the cautious boldness of Amartya Sen," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 989-1001.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:14:y:2002:i:4:p:435-461. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.