Well-being and Social Justice: In Defence of the Capabilities Approach

Annie Austin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The question ‘Equality of what?’ has been fiercely debated in both political theory and real world politics. What should be the focus of egalitarian social justice, and what should be measured to evaluate it? Philosophers have proposed several different answers to this question. Influential theories of the appropriate ‘currency of justice’ include resources (e.g. Rawls, 1971), opportunity (e.g. Roemer, 1998), and preference satisfaction (e.g. Arneson, 1990). This chapter proposes that the most suitable answer to the question ‘Equality of What?’ is well-being. ‘Well-being’ is a contested concept, and can be defined and measured in a variety of ways, with differing implications for policy. In this chapter, I defend a Capabilities Approach (Sen 1985) to well-being and justice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWellbeing in Politics and Policy
EditorsIan Bache, Karen Scott
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016


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