Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (The Seeley Lectures)

Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (The Seeley Lectures)

Martha C. Nussbaum

Language: English

Pages: 338

ISBN: 0521003857

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Proposing a new kind of feminism that is genuinely international, Martha Nussbaum argues for an ethical underpinning to all thought about development planning and public policy, and dramatically moves beyond the abstractions of economists and philosophers to embed thought about justice in the concrete reality of the struggles of poor women. In this book, Nussbaum argues that international political and economic thought must be sensitive to gender difference as a problem of justice, and that feminist thought must begin to focus on the problems of women in the third world. Taking as her point of departure the predicament of poor women in India, she shows how philosophy should undergird basic constitutional principles that should be respected and implemented by all governments, and used as a comparative measure of quality of life across nations. Nussbaum concludes by calling for a new international focus to feminism, and shows through concrete detail how philosophical arguments about justice really do connect with the practical concerns of public policy. HB ISBN (2000): 0-521-66086-6

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countertraditions of female defiance and strength, ignoring women’s protests against harmful traditions, and in general forgetting to ask women themselves what they think of these norms, which are typically purveyed, in tradition, through male texts and the authority of male religious and cultural leaders, against a background of women’s almost total economic and political disempowerment. We should say, first, that if divorce and career difficulties are painful, as they surely are, they are a lot

response to this is that, with these items as with self-respect, society can hope to guarantee the social basis of these natural goods, and that putting them on the list as a set of political goals should therefore be useful as a benchmark for aspiration and comparison. Even though individuals with adequate health support often fall ill, it still makes sense to compare societies by asking about actual health capabilities, since we assume that the comparison will reflect the different inputs of

behavior. We may also feel that health is a human good that has value in itself, independent of choice, and that it is not unreasonable for government to take a stand on its importance in a way that to some extent (though not totally) bypasses choice. Dignity is another area that is difficult to ponder. Surely we do not want altogether to close off voluntary choices citizens may make to abase themselves or to choose relationships involving humiliation in their personal lives, however unfortunate

preference-based theory has trouble accommodating liberal rights. Sen shows that we get an impossibility result if we combine Arrow’s principle of Unrestricted Domain and his weak version of the Pareto principle with a formal representation of the idea that society should protect spaces within which individuals pursue their own preferences. The reason for this is that, obviously enough, people have preferences about ity results it generated, see Amartya Sen, ‘‘Social Choice Theory: A

adaptive preferences, Amartya Sen.59 Sen focuses on the situation of women and other deprived people; his central case is that of women who do not desire some basic human good because they have been long habituated to its absence or told that it is not for such as them. For example, in 1944, the year after the Great Bengal Famine, the All-India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health did a survey in an area near Calcutta, including in the survey many widows and widowers. Among the widowers, 45.6%

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