chapter  3
20 Pages

Acting justly: relations and responsibility

The previous chapter emphasized that the normative language of the capability approach saw human beings in the particular light of wellbeing and agency, which it conceived in terms of the freedom to do or be what one has reason to value and the freedom to act and do something valuable for oneself and for others. It concluded that, in addition to providing a framework to assess human wellbeing in an encompassing way, including subjective states like life satisfaction, and objective circumstances like bodily health, cognitive attainment and participation in political and social life, the capability approach provided a framework for social transformation so that wellbeing could be enhanced. This chapter continues to focus on the keywords of the normative language and how social actors interpret them in their specific contexts. When moving from wellbeing to justice, from assessing how well people live to how to structure social, political and economic arrangements, this chapter argues that the language contains exactly the same keywords – wellbeing and agency – but links them more closely via the action of reasoning. The opportunities people have to live well (capabilities) are inseparable from what people do, how they act towards each other and their environment. Living well and acting justly go together. This is the argument that this chapter will develop.