Summary: Thomas Pogge (2002a) has recently criticized the capabilities approach to justice, questioning its ability to specify a plausible criterion of distributive justice that avoids stigmatizing the naturally less well-endowed. In this essay, I defend the capabilities approach against Pogge's critique, and explain why it is superior to its main rivals, subjective and resourcist approaches. A capability metric is superior to any subjective metric because only an objective metric, such as capability, can satisfy the demand for a public criterion of justice for the basic structure of society. It is superior to a resource metric because it focuses on ends rather than means, can better handle discrimination against the disabled, is properly sensitive to individual variations in functioning that have democratic import, and is well-suited to guide the just delivery of public services, especially in health and education.
Anderson, Elizabeth. Justifying the Capabilities Approach to Justice
2010, in Brighouse, H. & Robeyns, I. (Eds.) Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 81-100.
Added by: Carl Fox
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Comment: A defense of the capability approach as a superior (objective) metric of justice with a particular focus on ends vs. means, discrimination against the disabled, individual variations in functioning, and the delivery of public services such as health and education. Contains a useful overview of the capabilities approach and where it fits into a complete theory of justice. Compares and contrasts the CA with a resourcist approach.