Social Justice for Children — A Capability Approach

  • Gottfried Schweiger
  • Gunter Graf
Open Access


In this chapter, we will outline a concept of social justice for children based on the capability approach. So far, this issue has received much less attention than it deserves given the particular social and political status of children in today’s world. The capability approach, as well as most other theories of justice, has not dealt with children thoroughly, although more and more literature on important questions in this regard is being published. We seek to answer two important questions that every concept of justice has to deal with: what is the right currency of justice, and what is its right principle? To phrase the questions slightly differently: what kinds of things are children entitled to as a matter of justice, and how should they be distributed? Our answer to the first question is that children are entitled to the achievement of important functionings; only as they develop is it adequate to provide them with capabilities. Hence, the capability approach to justice for children we want to defend is in large part a functioning approach. In regard to the second question, we defend a sufficientarian approach. In a nutshell, each and every child is entitled to reach a certain threshold in all these important functionings, and failing to do so constitutes an injustice. Since the main target of this book is child poverty in affluent societies and welfare states, we will model our concept of justice on children living within these societies, although we believe that many of our claims hold universally and could serve as the basis for a concept of global justice.

Copyright information

© Gottfried Schweiger and Gunter Graf 2015

Open Access This Chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gottfried Schweiger
    • 1
  • Gunter Graf
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Paris Lodron University of SalzburgAustria
  2. 2.International Research Centre for Social and Ethical QuestionsSalzburgAustria

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