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Realism, universalism and capabilities

By Nuno Martins

Abstract

Amartya Sen's capability approach is a perspective that (unlike approaches that focus only on resources or goods) takes into account the heterogeneities between human individuals in the assessment of well-being and advantage. Nevertheless, the recognition of diversity between individuals also poses difficulties to the application of the capability approach in welfare analysis. Tony Lawson's structured ontology will be suggested here in order to render (empirical) diversity compatible with the need to make more general (possibly universal) welfare analysis (and policy prescriptions). This is so because Lawson's structured ontology distinguishes between an empirical level, where diversity exists, and an ontologically distinct level of the causal factors underlying the former: universalizing and generalizing can be made at this latter level.capabilities, diversity, structured ontology, realism, universalism,

DOI identifier: 10.1080/00346760701635817
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