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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

Monthly Archives: November 2018

Workshop: Foundational Issues of the Capability Approach

March 6-7, 2019

The Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy at KU Leuven, in collaboration with the Foundational Issues in the Capability Approach thematic group of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA), cordially invite you to attend a two-day workshop on Foundational Issues of the Capability Approach. The workshop will be held at the Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven on March 6-7, 2019, and include a keynote address by Prof. Ingrid Robeyns (Utrecht University) on ‘The capability approach and non-Western world views’.

The last decades have seen a proliferation in the use of the capability approach as a method for evaluating and conceptualising human development, inequality and social justice. The capability approach, as developed initially by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, is meant as an alternative to utility, income and resource metrics to evaluate what individuals are able to do, and the kind of persons they are able to be. By reframing the analysis of an individual’s social position from the instruments (income, resources) which allow her to flourish, to a focus on the actual opportunities available to her, and her actual use of these opportunities, the capability approach expands the evaluative space for theories of inequality and justice, poverty indexes and social and development policies on health, education, or women empowerment, among many other fields.

Despite being a leading method for the normative evaluation of inequality and justice, many issues and questions regarding the definition of the capability approach and of its fundamental concepts are still open. In her most recent book, Well-being, Freedom, and Social Justice (Open Access Publishers, 2018), Ingrid Robeyns addresses these gaps through a dissection of the basic commitments of a capability theorist, a novel proposal for conceptualising the capability approach methodologically (the Modular Structure), and clarifying the use of fundamental concepts such as ‘freedom’, ‘well-being’, or ‘capabilities’ and ‘functionings’.

This workshop aims to further the discussion on the fundamental normative and conceptual issues that derive from the use of the capability approach, including the value of freedom in the capability approach, how to conceptualise the concepts of capabilities and functionings, the role of Sen’s notion of positional objectivity in justifying capabilities, and the particular applicability of the approach in various questions of social justice. The workshop will feature ten presentations by prominent capability scholars from Belgium and the Netherlands:

Keynote: Ingrid Robeyns (Utrecht)

Charlotte Vyt (UNamur)

Constanze Binder (EU Rotterdam)

Katarina Pitasse Fragoso (UCLouvain)

Danielle Zwarthoed (UCLouvain)

Matthias Kramm (Utrecht)

Morten Fibieger Byskov (Warwick)

Nicolás Brando (KU Leuven)

Pamela Joy Capistrano (Visiting at UNamur)

Stéphane Leyens (UNamur)

Attendance, including coffee/tea and lunch, is free of charge but registration is necessary. To register for the workshop, send an email to Nicolás Brando ( before Sunday 24 February 2019. A detailed programme will be distributed to attendees closer to the workshop date.


Call for Papers: XVII Biennial IASC Conference ‘In Defense of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation, and Action’

The local organizers of the XVIIth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons welcome abstracts for papers, panels, videos, and posters to be presented at this conference, to be held in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 5 July 2019. The meeting will be held in the PUCP’s Lima campus and will be hosted by both PUCP’s Faculty of Social Sciences, and the Department of Economics of the Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia). Extended deadline for submission of abstracts: December 1, 2018

Download the Call for Papers here

With the theme of the conference, ‘In Defense of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation and Action’, we intend to provide scholars, practitioners, and policy makers with a forum to debate the contemporary role of the commons in a globalized word.  Analyzing issues such as climate change, ecosystem resilience, and sustainability through application of commons theory offers potential for finding alternative solutions.  In light of growing economic and power inequalities, gender imbalances, and impending scarcity, there is a need to find ways to address these pressing challenges occurring around the globe.

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

Social Fest

6 au 11 novembre à Paris
Entrée libre et gratuite / Ateliers sur inscriptions / Téléchargez le programme

Cet événement est organisé par Kawaa avec plus de 50 partenaires et sous le haut patronage du Ministère de la transition écologique et solidaire.

La première édition porte sur la thématique du mieux-vivre et se décline pendant 4 soirées et un week-end.

Pour découvrir l’ensemble de la programmation, c'est par ici !

C’est un événement convivial dans un lieu inspirant, n’hésitez pas à venir avec des amis et/ou en famille notamment le week-end (les enfants et grands parents sont les bienvenus)


This event is organized by Kawaa with over 50 partners and under the patronage of the Ministry of ecology and solidarity transition.

The first edition focuses on the theme of better living and is available for 4 nights and weekends.

To discover all of the programming click here!It is a friendly event in an inspiring place. Feel free to bring friends and / or family especially on weekends (children and grandparents are welcome)

The entry is free (the workshops are for subscribers).
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