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Athletic policy, passive well-being : defending freedom in the capability approach.

Begon, Jessica (2016) 'Athletic policy, passive well-being : defending freedom in the capability approach.', Economics and philosophy., 32 (01). pp. 51-73.


G.A. Cohen has criticized the capability approach for focusing on individuals’ freedom – their capability to control their lives – and ignoring benefits achieved passively. He argues that this view of well-being is excessively ‘athletic’. However, if the capability approach is employed to guide egalitarian public policy, capabilities are the appropriate goal of just distributive policies, not just components of individual well-being. When understood as a policy-guide, I argue that the capability approach's focus on ‘athletic’ individual freedom and control is justified: in the public domain, it is important not just that individuals receive benefits, but that they participate in their achievement.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Economics & Philosophy This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press 2015.
Date accepted:25 January 2015
Date deposited:05 October 2018
Date of first online publication:16 July 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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