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Martha Nussbaum on Capabilities - Dictionary of Arguments

Brocker I 895
Capabilities/Nussbaum: Nussbaum wants central human capabilities to be understood as specific political goals in the context of political order. As political goals, they stand beyond particular metaphysical justifications and can therefore be regarded as the basis of basic constitutional principles. In this way, capabilities can become the object of an "overarching consensus". ...the state is indeed obliged to enable each individual to exercise the basic capabilities, but the actual realization is left to each individual.
Brocker I 896
Nussbaum basically focuses on the question of possibilities/skills instead of actual satisfaction.(1)
Brocker I 901
Capabilities Approach/Nussbaum: (for problems, see Universalism/Nussbaum); its task is twofold: 1. to enable comparability of the quality of life of different people in different contexts; 2. to establish an overarching normative basis that allows core areas of human functioning to be determined and thus certain capabilities that must be guaranteed for every citizen in every nation in political contexts.(2)
VsNussbaum: Question: Doesn't Nussbaum introduce here an implicit reference to "human nature" that pushes her into the risky direction of metaphysical realism?
NussbaumVsVs: Nussbaum does not assume a neutral observer who judges the facts of human life from an external perspective. Rather, she pleads for an internal reconstruction of knowledge about ourselves: We can only understand and comprehend ourselves from ourselves and against the background of shared experiences (cf. Pauer-Studer 1999, 10 f.).(3)
Brocker I 902
It is crucial that the liberal basic principle of "each person as an end", aggravated by the "principle of each person's capability"(4), is recognised. The recognition of this principle is reflected in the fact that it is not certain lifestyles that are to be defined, but rather abilities and spheres of action that are to be guaranteed in order to allow people the free choice of how they perceive these possibilities. Functional abilities of the human being: See >Functions/Nussbaum.
Brocker I 903
f.). Nussbaum understands the capabilities approach as a theory of basic conditions, not as a full theory of justice. A complete theory would require a more clearly marked approach to determining the threshold level of capabilities.(5)
Three categories of abilities/Nussbaum: a) basic capabilities, b) internal capabilities, c) combined capabilities. (Interaction with external conditions).(6) Cf. rights/Nussbaum.

1. Martha C. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development. The Capabilities Approach, Cambridge 2000, p, 12.
2. Ibid. p.71
3. H. Pauer-Studer 1999, »Einleitung«, in: Martha C. Nussbaum, Gerechtigkeit oder das gute Leben, Frankfurt/M. 1999, 7-23., p.10f
4. Nussbaum ibid. p.74
5. ibid. p. 12
6. ibid. p.84

Sandra Seubert, „Martha C. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development (2000)“, in:Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-07-29
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