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The capability approach to intergenerational justice: A survey


  • Gutwald, Rebecca
  • Leßmann, Ortrud
  • Masson, Torsten
  • Rauschmayer, Felix


The politically influential idea of sustainable development is closely tied to the concept of inter- and intragenerational justice without clarifying these concepts and their relationship. In developing an account of human development, the capability approach conceptualizes parts of intragenerational justice, but not intergenerational justice. After explaining briefly our motivation by establishing the link to sustainable development, this paper aims to close the gap in two steps: first, it clarifies elements of a universal theory of justice. Second, it examines how well the CA can take up these elements before drafting how this would translate back to the political context of sustainable development.

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  • Gutwald, Rebecca & Leßmann, Ortrud & Masson, Torsten & Rauschmayer, Felix, 2011. "The capability approach to intergenerational justice: A survey," UFZ Discussion Papers 8/2011, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ufzdps:82011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anand, Sudhir & Sen, Amartya, 2000. "Human Development and Economic Sustainability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2029-2049, December.
    2. Howarth, Richard B., 2007. "Towards an operational sustainability criterion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 656-663, September.
    3. Ingrid Robeyns, 2005. "The Capability Approach: a theoretical survey," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 93-117.
    4. Frances Stewart, 2001. "Women and human development: the capabilities approach, by MARTHA NUSSBAUM (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 2000, pp. xxi +312, hbk £17.95)," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(8), pages 1191-1192.
    5. Söderbaum, Peter, 2011. "Sustainability economics as a contested concept," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(6), pages 1019-1020, April.
    6. Rothman, Dale S., 2011. "Felix Rauschmayer, Ines Omann and Johannes Frühmann, Editors, Sustainable Development: Capabilities, Needs, and Well-Being, Routledge, London and New York (2011) ISBN 978-0-415-58652-8 167 pp.," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1701-1701, July.
    7. Mulgan, Tim, 2008. "Future People: A Moderate Consequentialist Account of our Obligations to Future Generations," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199556731, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Demals, Thierry & Hyard, Alexandra, 2014. "Is Amartya Sen's sustainable freedom a broader vision of sustainability?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 33-38.

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