chapter  7
26 Pages

Saving Martha Nussbaum from Herself: Help from Friends She Didn’t Know She Had

The capabilities approach developed by Martha Nussbaum has sought to provide the philosophic underpinning for a new set of ethical principles that ought to be respected and implemented by governments of nations. Her approach complements and parallels the approach taken in development economics by Amartya Sen, and has been infl uential in informing the Human Development Programme of the United Nations in the 1990s.1 Although bearing similarities with the work of Sen, Nussbaum bases her approach in Aristotelian philosophy, and as Robert E. Goodin and David Parker (2000: 5) put it, seeks to be “welfarist without being utilitarian; Aristotelian, without being perfectionist; universalist, without being altogether essentialist; [and] feminist, without forsaking liberalism.”