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Poverty as a Lack of Freedom: A Short History of the Capability Approach

  • Gustavo PereiraEmail author
Reference work entry

Abstract

The capability approach is a normative framework for welfare assessments. The concept of capability, understood as freedom to achieve the goals that someone appreciates, is the one which articulates the impact of Sen’s contributions to the discussions about justice, poverty, and development. The development of the capability approach can be reconstructed from two features that appear early and consistently in Sen’s work; one of them is the integration of moral rationality in social explanation and the other is the sensitivity to vulnerability. Both features determine the high sensitivity to interpersonal variability of the capability approach, which differentiates it from other proposals that have shaped the discussions about justice, poverty, and development. The development of the capability approach has benefited from theoretical contributions of philosophers and economists who have expanded and strengthened Sen’s original view, while it has become a normative guide for government agencies to adopt multidimensional measures for poverty and development, or design suitable social policies.

Keywords

Capability approach vulnerability moral rationality poverty development freedom 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Practical PhilosophyUniversidad de la RepúblicaMontevideoUruguay

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