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Human Development &
Capability Association

Multi-Disciplinary and People-Centred

WEBINAR – Capabilities in a Just Society: A Theory of Navigational Agency

The Foundational Issues in the Capability Approach thematic group invites you to a webinar on Rutger Claassen’s book

Capabilities in a Just Society: A Theory of Navigational Agency

Tuesday 12 February, 2019, 13.00-14-30 CET

This webinar will take the form of a book symposium on Rutger Claassen’s book Capabilities in a Just Society (CUP 2018) and feature comments by David Axelsen (LSE), Jessica Begon (Durham), Yuko Kamishima (Ritsumeikan University), David A. Crocker (Maryland), and Leticia Aparicio Soriano (UNAM).

In his book, Claassen asks: what sort of entitlements should citizens have in a just society? He sets out a theory of what he terms ‘navigational agency’, whereby citizens should be able to navigate freely between social practices. This shows how individuals can be at the same time free and autonomous in striving for their own goals in life, but also embedded in social practices in which they have to cooperate with others. He argues that for navigational agency, people need three sets of core capabilities: those which allow human empowerment in civil society, a decent level of socioeconomic subsistence, and political participation in democratic decision-making procedures. The idea of navigational agency, the book argues, provides an alternative to currently dominant versions of the capability approach to social justice, and strengthens its liberal foundations.

Rutger Claassen is Associate Professor of Ethics & Political Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of Utrecht University where he is the Program Director of the new BA-program in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE), starting in September 2018. His research is in the field of socio-economic justice, where he defends a version of the capability approach – pioneered by economist Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum, which focuses on the development of personal capabilities instead of material resources as the central criterion for a just society. Moreover, he is interested in economic ethics and investigates the moral value of central economic institutions such as markets, property and corporations. Currently he is the principal investigator of a research project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) on Private Property & Political Power in Liberal-Democratic Societies. He has published in journals such as Economic & Philosophy, Inquiry, Law & Philosophy, Journal of Social Philosophy and Politics, Philosophy & Economics.

Participants must register to participate in this webinar. Details on how to participate will be sent to you a few days before the webinar. To register and for any question about the webinar, please contact Morten Fibieger Byskov at

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