Wellbeing, Justice and Development Ethics: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Wellbeing, Justice and Development Ethics

1st Edition

By Severine Deneulin


124 pages

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The question of the meaning of progress and development is back on the political agenda. How to frame this discontent and search for new alternatives when either socialism or liberalism no longer provides a satisfactory framework? This book introduces in an accessible way the capability approach, first articulated by Amartya Sen in the early 1980s. Written for an international audience, but rooted in the Latin American reality - a region with a history of movements for social justice - the book argues that the capability approach provides to date, the most encompassing and promising ethical framework with which to construct action for improving people’s wellbeing and reducing injustices in the world.

Comprehensive, practical and nuanced in its treatment of the capability approach, this highly original volume gives students, researchers and professionals in the field of development an innovative framing of the capability approach as a 'language' for action and provides specific examples of how it has made a difference.


Combining conceptual analysis and case studies, this book shows that poor people, their capabilities and agency, must be the foundations of the kind of thinking about well-being and justice that will prepare us for a 'post-development' world, in which the artificial constructs of North and South are replaced by the much more tangible and universal divides between haves and have-nots.

–Duncan Green, Oxfam International

Within the world of development policy, there has been a very well-justified push for the so-called "evidence-based policy making". However, these entail the risk of creating an illusion of "objectivity", which hides the system of ethical values behind specific prescriptions. This book does a great job of providing a solid normative framework for policy: widening the set of effective options people have to live the life they have reason to value. Many of the practical implications of such a framework are discussed in this work, which hopefully will become a reference for anyone engaged in the difficult task of policy advice.

–Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Lead Economist and Regional Poverty Advisor, Europe and Central Asia Region, The World Bank

"Wellbeing, Justice and Development Ethics claims to be decision and action focused by showing the reader how the approach can help him or her to frame decisions and actions that lead to increased well-being and agency and more just relations between people and the environment. It also emphasizes that the capability approach should be used as a flexible normative language rather than seen as a dogmatic set of principles."

–European Journal of Development Research, Sylvia I. Bergh, Erasmus University, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Development and ethics 2. Living well: Wellbeing and agency 3. Acting justly: Relations and responsibility 4. Assessing and transforming social realities 5. The forming and speaking of the language Conclusion

About the Author

Séverine Deneulin is Senior Lecturer in International Development, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, UK

About the Series

The Routledge Human Development and Capability Debates

This series aims to foster multi-disciplinary discussions of contemporary issues, using the normative framework of the ‘capability approach’ and human development paradigm. It considers the extent to which the capability approach, and its perspective of human freedom, provides useful and innovative ways of interpreting and analysing various social realities, such as wellbeing and justice; land conflict; indigenous rights; and technological innovation.

By highlighting both the strengths and limitations of this freedom perspective, each volume provides a comprehensive, concise and jargon-free overview of a range of contemporary challenges for postgraduate students, policy makers and practitioners.

Informed by original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series explore innovative solutions for real-world change to foster debate in the scholarly and professional communities.

We invite book proposals which engage with a variety of fields as they relate to this ethical perspective, with a preference for those which focus on key issues or topical areas of international relevance.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (Helena.Hurd@tandf.co.uk).

Series Editors:

Séverine Deneulin, Department of Social Policy, University of Bath, UK

Ortrud Lessmann, coordinator of Thematic Groups of HDCA, Germany

Krushil Watene, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries