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The Seductive Quality of Central Human Capabilities: Sociological Insights into Nussbaum and Sen's Disagreement
Economy and Society (2006)
  • Paul K. Gellert, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
  • Shelley Feldman, Cornell University
Abstract

In an era when relativism and questions of modernity have unsettled the premises and goals of the development project, there is a seductive quality to the universalism of Nussbaum's capabilities approach. We query Nussbaum's philosophically based contribution and raise epistemological concerns about her commitment to a list of central human capabilities. We argue that attention to state forms and practices, as well as unequal power relations, must be incorporated into analyses of capability and development. This leads us to support Sen's advocacy of deliberative democracy as a productive space for collectivities and individuals to strive for social justice and equity. Such a focus is necessarily attentive to multiple forms of inequality and domination and is best understood by engaging historically specific analyses of state formations.

Keywords
  • democratic deliberation; capability; universalism; historical sociology; Nussbaum; Sen
Publication Date
August, 2006
Citation Information
Paul K. Gellert and Shelley Feldman. "The Seductive Quality of Central Human Capabilities: Sociological Insights into Nussbaum and Sen's Disagreement" Economy and Society Vol. 35 Iss. 3 (2006)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul_gellert/2/