Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities

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His work has been published in The Independent , [4] New Statesman , [5] academic journals, and other newspapers and magazines. Brighouse has also written on justice more generally and on cosmopolitanism. Brighouse received his B. He is the son of Tim Brighouse , former commissioner of schools for London. Brighouse is a member of the Crooked Timber group blog. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Harry Brighouse. The Independent.

Serena Olsaretti, Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities - PhilPapers

Retrieved 9 April We can hardly discuss the ends without worrying about the means, and vice versa. The more one reads of the debate between the two approaches, the more it seems that the two approaches cannot dispense with one another. For example, Anderson offers a capabilities solution to the problem of unjust stigmas and stereotypes. A capabilities approach, she says,.

Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities

For example, public school curricula and student socialization policies can be revised to stress the importance of tolerance and cooperation across difference, and undermine false stereotypes about gays and lesbians, women, the disabled, blacks, Muslims, and other disadvantaged groups. Public institutions can also design affirmative action programs not merely to compensate victims for unjust resource deprivations, but to facilitate informal intergroup socialization and cooperation.

Despite Anderson naming it otherwise, it appears that this is a resourcist solution to a problem identified by a capabilities approach. In the example, public policies by school officials or other institutions address problems of political inequality. The use of public policies to create opportunities is a resourcist solution. Anderson argues that her solution is an indirect solution, and therefore not resourcist. However, it is hard to know what she has in mind here as the distinction between direct and indirect, and why a resourcist can't make use of both direct and indirect uses of resources to create more just institutions.

Limiting the resourcist to only direct solutions seems to arbitrarily and needlessly hobble the primary goods theory. In what seems like a contrast to Anderson's capabilities approach, the primary goods or resourcist approach is open to sharing theoretical space with capabilities. In his essay defending the resourcist approach, Pogge states, "an account of human capabilities can also play an important and evidentiary role [in a theory of justice]. The observed fact that many persons are lacking certain vital functionings may be good reason to revise our resourcist criterion of social justice" p.

He continues, "Resources do not, after all, figure as the ultimate ends in human lives, but as a means for meeting human needs and, ultimately, for pursuing all the diverse ends that persons may set themselves" p. On this reading, capabilities and primary goods approaches do not appear to be alternative theories; rather, they are complementary parts of a larger theory of justice.

However, there are still important differences between the two approaches to justice. Pogge locates one important difference between the two approaches in their conceptions of inequality. While both approaches must account for the natural diversity between persons, according to Pogge, each approach has a different take on which natural diversity counts as inequality requiring distributive address. Under a capabilities view, any feature natural or otherwise that affects a person's capabilities is a relevant feature for theories of justice.

The measure of justice on this view is the person's ability and freedom to achieve certain functionings. What matters is that obstacles to individual functioning are removed and opportunities to function are in place. On the primary goods view, by contrast, only a certain set of natural differences are relevant from the perspective of justice -- those differences that are disadvantaged by social arrangements. On this view, natural diversity becomes inequality only when manmade institutions treat persons with certain natural endowments unequally.

If an individual has a feature such as a disability that is disadvantaged by the social arrangements such that the individual has unequal opportunities to advance their ends, then the social arrangements should be changed to correct for this inequality.

Throughout the readings, it struck me that the above difference identified by Pogge and two other differences were important to the debate between capabilities and primary goods, or resourcist, theories. First, the resourcist approach deals first with the question of what is a fair share of goods, and then distributes that fair share to persons.

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In contrast, the capabilities approach deals first with what is necessary for human functioning, and then demands that each person be given the means to achieve that functioning. As Anderson points out, because of this difference, the resourcist approach will have a harder time identifying and correcting for inequalities. Because of the resourcist focus on goods, the theory cannot directly show concern for individual heterogeneity. Rather, according to Anderson's interpretation of the resourcist approach, "everyone is entitled to access to a standardized package of resources, unadjusted for individual variations in their needs and endowments" p.

She illustrates with an example of disabled parking spaces. Disabled parking spaces are. Disabled persons have a just complaint against lots that lack such parking spaces: like buildings that lack wheelchair ramps, they are based on a biased conception of human needs and endowments, tailored to the fully ambulatory. Yet their claim cannot be accommodated by devising an 'unbiased' parking space, and then including that type of space in the standardized package of resources to which all are entitled to access, disregarding individual variations in need and endowment. This is an extreme example, and I don't see any reason why a resourcist would accept that this is a consequence of her theory.

About this product Product Information This book brings together a team of leading theorists to address the question 'What is the right measure of justice? Others, following John Rawls, argue for focussing on social primary goods, the goods which society produces and which people can use.


Still others see both views as incomplete and complementary to one another. Their essays evaluate the two approaches in the light of particular issues of social justice — education, health policy, disability, children, gender justice — and the volume concludes with an essay by Amartya Sen, who originated the capabilities approach.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. This book should seriously challenge sophisticated readers The editors, Harty Brighouse and Ingrid Robeyns, open the collection with a brisk and helpful general introduction that sets up the debate and provides a summary of the nine central chapters of the book Show More Show Less.

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