Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy and Public Affairs
© 2012 Ellen Lebow
Sen and Nussbaum generate very different degrees of obligation for the affluent under their theories of justice, despite each of them deriving their theory of justice from capability as a metric for quality of life. On one hand, Sen’s account of obligation seems very weak, while Nussbaum’s seems overwhelmingly robust. I argue that the sufficient/decisivereasons framework as put forth by philosopher Derek Parfit captures the nuances of their extremely different accounts of obligation. Further, I argue that this framework convincingly demonstrates that the accounts of obligation that Sen and Nussbaum offer in each of their versions of the capability approach are unsatisfying, as each approach occupies such extremes that they are unreasonable. In spite of this, supplementing the capability approach with a different and perhaps more centrist account of obligation can make the capability approach a more consistent and appealing theory of justice. To this end, I appropriate Thomas Pogge’s account of obligation.
Lebow, Ellen, "Justice and Obligation: Building on the Capability Approach" (2012). CMC Senior Theses. 368.
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