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Lecture

Martha Nussbaum Political Philosophy

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 102
Professor
Dominic Mc Iver Lopes
Semester
Fall

Description
PHIL 102 – Political Philosophy: Nussbaum and Amartya Sen March 24 2014 Final Exam – Class discussion + Friday discussion sessions + readings Both Rawlsians They argue for a different approach to measure wellbeing. Varying consequences on justice Nussbaum – Aristotle’s well being: different conception of wellbeing. What it implies for Rawls and Justice Amartya Sen: Economist, west Bengal, studied with Rawls @ Harvard • Influenced by the West Bengal famine. • Famine is not caused by not having enough food but not distributed • Disagreed with Rawls in some aspects • Influenced by Indian Philosophy and classical economics (An Idea of Justice) Justice and Policy • Rawls’ theory of justice articulates an IDEAL for fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity (access to resources/power), and reduction of poverty o It’s a compelling ideal • PROBLEM: o In practice, the ideal may not help to address existing injustice  Agents in the original position are deprived of the very knowledge they need to contend with actually injustice  They don’t know about human life, and that is needed to address injustice in our worlds o Knowing the ideal may not be sufficient for achieving it. Set it aside and try to achieve it. o Sen replaces the agent in the original position with an (imperfectly) impartial observer  We should look at social arrangements comparatively and pluralistically. PHIL 102 – Political Philosophy: Nussbaum and Amartya Sen • Nussbaum adopts this idea of comparative and pluralistic approach • We should look at human societies more generally • Should be broad enough that they should have equally just but different approaches. Some societies are really bad! They are treated unjustly. • NOT JUST ONE WAY TO ORGANIZE a society to be just. Development – Justice in a development context. How just developing countries can be? • Rawls assumes that the principles of justice are decided for conditions of moderate scarcity • Original position they are making decisions for all but they’re behind the veil of ignorance. • Many places in the world there is dire scarcity! Not have enough for everything they want. o They don’t have minimal decency. Is the difference principle appropriate?  What if 105 is not enough to live on? Disability – human beings are built differently to each other. Meaning different people to convert income into wellbeing varies • Some of us can take a little money to turn it into happiness • The capacity to turn income into • Personal social and environmental factors Nussbaum and Sen: • Need a more nuanced measure of well being o One that can guide policy • Functionings and capabilities are traits of persons Nussbaum from Aristotle: PHIL 102 – Political Philosophy: Nussbaum and Amartya Sen Functionings: beings and doings of a person. There are things that they do and things that result from them. Things that you do! Both can be good or bad. E.g. being a philosophy student, being a cheater E.g. doing: taking a philosophy class, cheating in a test. They can be subtly different: not eating, starving, fasting, and dieting. (level/degree) – different reasons. Different behaviours. (Nussbaum and Sen’s approach) Capabilities: effective opportunities to achieve functionings • Taking into account personal, social and environmental factors • Basic Capabilities: innate capabilities needed for more advanced ones. We are born with. o Environmental conditions to trigger etc. o Reason, language, imaginative abilities • Internal Capabilities: internal states sufficient for functioning. • Combined Capabilities: Internal states combined with environmental and social factors sufficient for functioning. o Education o Free speech? Conversion Factor: the degree to which a resource can be turned into a functioning. • Personal • How much resource needed to make one person into a sumo wrestler! 1000 steaks or 100 steaks • Social factors play an important role • Environmental constraint (Physical and built) o Some cities, you can’t use a bicycle in LA compared to Amsterdam o They created an environment; you don’t need a lot of resources to exercise the capability. • Each person has different profile of conversion factors • The conversion factors to price capabilities PHIL 102 – Political Philosophy: Nussbaum and Amartya Sen • Cognitive makeup plays a factor too. (They may need more/less resources) • This is why principles of justice cannot simply allocate resources (p. 284) What matters is the capability that they have. But they don’t have the environmental tools etc. • Development influences the conversion factor • Disability: you might need another tool to function. Different physical/psychological frames will use the resources differently Wellbeing is measured in terms of capability and its conversion price. Measure the distribution. 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) – to measur
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