Ten Essential Capabilities (minimum account of justice)


The following post are simple class notes.

Coursera (MOOC)

University of Pennsylvania

Course: Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom

Lecture 3.2.1: Justice: The Ten Central Human Capabilities

Professor: Alexander Guerrero


The basic ideia is that with regard to each (of these ten capabilities), we can argue, by imagining a life without the capability in question, that such life is not a life worth of human dignity. The argument in each case is based on imagining a form of life; it is intuitive and discursive. The list is open ended and can be changed. It is based on international agreements on human rights.

Martha Nussbaum‘s List

For each and every citizen on each and every nation, there must be assured:

  1. Life
    1. Being able to live to the end.
  2. Bodily Health
    1. Adequately nourished and sheltered.
  3. Bodily integrity
    1. Being able to move freely from place to place (e.g. sex satisfaction and choice regarding reproduction)
  4. Senses, imagination and thought
    1. Being able to use the senses to imagine, think and sense. Cultivated by education (basic math and literacy training), music, freedom of expression, religious freedom. Sense of animal as an agents seeking a flourishing existence (freedom from pain, nourishment, freedom from fear, freedom to act as normal for the species, chance to enjoy air and light tranquility).
  5. Emotions
    1. Being able to have attachments to things and people outside ourselves. Freedom to love, grieve, association. (State can play a place improving or avoiding)
  6. Practical Reason
    1. Freedom of conscience and religious. We don’t came to same conclusions as what is good, what a good life means. AGAINST UTILITARIANISM (it doesn’t allow different views). Is this list itself limiting? It allows us to form a conception of what is the good. Is religious and parents shaping children’s views?
  7. Affiliation
    1. Having the social basis of respect and non-humiliation. Feeling free to be a human. Political speech and avoiding discrimination on many basis (gender, religious, nation…)
  8. Other species
    1. Being able to live with animals, plants and world nature.
  9. Play
    1. Being able to play and enjoy life.
  10. Control over One’s Environment
    1. Political (being able to participate effectively)
    2. Material (being able to hold property in equal basis with others. Freedom to seek employment)

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