AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Capabilities and Civil Disobedience

by Larsson Daniel

Institution: Linköping University
Year: 2015
Keywords: capability approach; civil disobedience; basic capabilities; human rights; human dignity; positive liberty; Humanities; Philosophy, Ethics and Religion; Philosophy; Humaniora; Filosofi, etik och religion; Filosofi; Philosophy; Filosofi
Record ID: 1343637
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-117885


This essay investigates whether Amartya Sen’s or Martha Nussbaum’s version of the capability approach is better suited to justify civil disobedience. The theoretical framework of my study is critical discourse analysis. This aims to establish the most significant conditions for the justification of civil disobedience. An interpretation of the conception of civil disobedience is presented. The investigation assumes that civil disobedience is justified when people advocate for a change in a policy or a law that limits the securing of basic capabilities. A major part of the essay is devoted to clarifying how the idea of basic capabilities relates to civil disobedience. I also emphasize the importance of human dignity as a universal value. I argue that this value is crucial to realizing why some capabilities are more basic than others. I show that Nussbaum is in a better position than Sen to explain when civil disobedience can be justified. This is because Sen lacks a framework of basic capabilities leaving it up to each nation to assess which capabilities ought to be secured.