Perfectionism, Liberalism and Paternalism in Sen and Nussbaum's Capability Approach

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Abstract

The aim of the paper is to analyse the theoretical foundations of human development policies as found in Sen’s and Nussbaum’s capability approach to development, and to examine to what extent undertaking policies according to the capability approach respects people’s freedom to pursue their own conception of the good. The paper argues that policies undertaken according to the capability approach have to be guided by a perfectionist conception of the good, that is, they cannot avoid promoting one certain conception of the human good. Such a perfectionist conception of the human good, and the policies ensuing from it, have often been qualified as paternalist, depriving the human being of choosing her own conception of the good. The paper examines to what extent those fears of paternalism that seem to underlie policies guided by a perfectionist account of the good are legitimate, and to what extent the capability approach can escape those charges of paternalism and respect each person’s freedom to pursue the human good as she conceives it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-518
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Political Economy
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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paternalism
liberalism
human being
development policy
respect
Paternalism
Liberalism
Conception
Capability approach
anxiety

Keywords

  • Political economics

Cite this

Perfectionism, Liberalism and Paternalism in Sen and Nussbaum's Capability Approach. / Deneulin, S.

In: Review of Political Economy, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2002, p. 497-518.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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