Democracy, Philosophy, and the Selection of Capabilities

Morten Fibieger Byskov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A key task within the capability approach is the selection of relevant capabilities. The question of how to select capabilities has divided capability theorists into two camps: those who argue that it is a philosophical task and those who argue that it is a matter for the public. In this paper, I argue that this distinction between philosophy and democracy is counterproductive to the operationalization of the capability approach. On the one hand, proponents of the philosophical position overestimate the need for philosophical theorizing when selecting capabilities. On the other hand, proponents of the democratic positions can benefit from addressing issues raised by philosophers. I conclude that rather than making the philosophical position more democratically sensitive, we should search out ways in which philosophy can reinforce democratic processes in general and in relation to the selection of capabilities in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017

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