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Academic events

6 Mar 2019 - 7 Dec 2018
Leuven, Belgium

Workshop on Foundational Issues of the Capability Approach (KU Leuven)

Ingrid Robeyns will deliver a keynote address on ‘The capability approach and non-Western world views’ at the ‘Foundational Issues of the Capability Approach’ workshop at the Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven.

The last decades have seen a proliferation in the use of the capability approach as a method for evaluating and conceptualising human development, inequality and social justice. The capability approach, as developed initially by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, is meant as an alternative to utility, income and resource metrics to evaluate what individuals are able to do, and the kind of persons they are able to be. By reframing the analysis of an individual’s social position from the instruments (income, resources) which allow her to flourish, to a focus on the actual opportunities available to her, and her actual use of these opportunities, the capability approach expands the evaluative space for theories of inequality and justice, poverty indexes and social and development policies on health, education, or women empowerment, among many other fields.

Despite being a leading method for the normative evaluation of inequality and justice, many issues and questions regarding the definition of the capability approach and of its fundamental concepts are still open. In her most recent book, Well-being, Freedom, and Social Justice (Open Access Publishers, 2018), Ingrid Robeyns addresses these gaps through a dissection of the basic commitments of a capability theorist, a novel proposal for conceptualising the capability approach methodologically (the Modular Structure), and clarifying the use of fundamental concepts such as ‘freedom’, ‘well-being’, or ‘capabilities’ and ‘functionings’.

This workshop aims to further the discussion on the fundamental normative and conceptual issues that derive from the use of the capability approach, including the value of freedom in the capability approach, how to conceptualise the concepts of capabilities and functionings, the role of Sen’s notion of positional objectivity in justifying capabilities, and the particular applicability of the approach in various questions of social justice. The workshop will feature ten presentations by prominent capability scholars from Belgium and the Netherlands:

Matthias Kramm (Utrecht)
Charlotte Vyt (UNamur)
Constanze Binder (EU Rotterdam)
Katarina Pitasse Fragoso (UCLouvain)
Danielle Zwarthoed (UCLouvain)
Morten Fibieger Byskov (Warwick)
Nicolás Brando (KU Leuven)
Pamela Joy Capistrano (Visiting at UNamur)
Stéphane Leyens (UNamur)

Attendance, including coffee/tea and lunch, is free of charge but registration is necessary. To register for the workshop, check out the link above.