The Capability Approach in Practice : A New Ethics in Setting Development Agendas book cover
1st Edition

The Capability Approach in Practice
A New Ethics in Setting Development Agendas

ISBN 9780367734664
Published December 18, 2020 by Routledge
172 Pages

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Book Description

This book develops a philosophical framework for selecting goals for development purposes. This inclusive and democratic framework integrates a variety of resources including philosophical theory, empirical analysis, stakeholder deliberations, local knowledge, and advice from development experts. The author contends that we must provide good reasons and arguments in order to justify a particular development agenda. That is, we need to ask why we choose certain kinds of development goals over others, why we include certain agents in the selection process and not others, and why we select goals through one method rather than another.

In response to these questions, the author argues that development should aim at expanding people’s capabilities and functionings. Capabilities and functionings—capabilities that have been realized—tell us what people are actually able to do and be with their resources, goods, and formal freedoms. He advances the view that local stakeholders should have more authority in deciding what a development agenda looks like. This claim to local authority in development can be interpreted both as a claim to political authority and expert authority. Finally, the author argues that ad hoc, foundational, procedural, and mixed (multi-stage) methods need to be synthesized in order to select the best capabilities and functionings for development.

The Capability Approach in Practice provides a philosophical and systematic approach to setting development agendas. It is an important contribution to the literature on the capability approach and development ethics, which will appeal to a broad range of scholars within philosophy and development studies.

Table of Contents

1. The Importance of Development Agendas

2. A Capability Framework for Development Goals

3. A Republican Account of Local Authority in Development

4. Third Wave Development Expertise

5. Selecting Capabilities for a Development Agenda

6. Methods for the Selection of Capabilities and Functionings

7. An Inclusive Framework for Setting Development Agendas

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Morten Fibieger Byskov is a postdoctoral researcher at the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, UK


"This important book maps much of the work operationalising the capability approach to date, and shows one of the ways in which that approach can be used for global development agenda setting. Given the significance of the Post-SDG agenda, and the importance of both local and global knowledges, this book makes an important contribution to these areas. Anyone interested in mainstream development ethics, goal setting, and the capability approach will find this book an excellent resource."Krushil Watene, Massey University, New Zealand

"In this lucid and systematic study, Morten Fibieger Byskov provides challenging answers to three questions at the core of both development ethics and the capability approach to development: (1) Which should be the goals of development and a "development agenda?" (2) Who should decide? and (3) What methods should be employed in deciding? The "inclusive framework" for which Byskov argues achieves a nice balance between normative and empirical aspects of development and between the rights of local stakeholders and contributions of a variety of experts. This engaging volume will be a "must read" for development ethicists, capability theorists, and development practitioners." - David A. Crocker, University of Maryland, USA.