Humanity, virtue, justice: a framework for a capability approach

Bessey, Benjamin James (2015). Humanity, virtue, justice: a framework for a capability approach. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

PDF - Accepted Version

Download (1MB)


This Thesis reconsiders the prospects for an approach to global justice centring on the proposal that every human being should possess a certain bundle of goods, which would include certain members of a distinctive category: the category of capabilities. My overall aim is to present a clarified and well-developed framework, within which such claims can be made. To do this, I visit a number of regions of normative and metanormative theorising. I begin by introducing the motivations for the capability approach, and clarifying some of its most distinctive features. Next, I focus on Martha Nussbaum's version of the approach, and identify several problems therein. The most important concerns epistemology, and especially the challenges that constructivist theories pose. The middle part of the Thesis presents an alternative, based on the work of John McDowell, which I argue has superior prospects. Then, I turn to two further problems: that of making sense of the universalistic aspirations of cosmopolitanism, and that of integrating the microscopic prescriptions of ethics with the macroscopic analyses of political philosophy. Using the Aristotelian interpretation of its core framework that I have developed, I conclude that the capability approach can provide compelling answers to important questions about global justice.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Philosophy
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year