FICA Panel II: Paternalism within the capability approach – self-determination and the selection of capabilities
Byskov, Morten Fibieger (2016). 'FICA Panel II: Paternalism within the capability approach - self-determination and the selection of capabilities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.
The four presentations in this panel aim to explore the issue of paternalism within the capability approach. What is the role of paternalism within the capability approach? Can the capability approach avoid the charge of paternalism, for example by enhancing the self-determination of groups and individuals, or to what extent can paternalistic interventions be justified within the capability framework?
The capability approach advocates that human well-being is measured in the space of functionings and capabilities. The issue of paternalism within the capability approach arise because there is no straightforward way to determine what capabilities and functionings are normatively valuable or relevant. While some capability scholars have argued that normatively relevant capabilities should be selected through a democratic process (Sen 1999, 2002; Crocker 2005, 2008; Jaggar 2006; Robeyns 2005), other scholars have suggested that that individuals are entitled to certain, central capabilities and functionings based on normative theory (Nussbaum 2006, 2011; Claassen 2011, and Düwell 2013). In other words, who decide what capabilities and functionings are normatively relevant for a group of people is unclear on the capability approach and opens up for paternalistic interventions. Moreover, it has been argued, any reference to what is normatively valuable carries the risk of paternalism insofar as it focuses on certain valuable capabilities and functionings rather than others.
Several proposals to avoid or accommodate paternalism have been suggested within the capability literature. These proposals may be more abstract in nature. For example, some scholars have argued that the only way to avoid paternalism is by stressing the intrinsic value of choosing between different capabilities (Begon 2013; Carter 2014), while others have argued that the capability framework justifies the paternalistic promotion of certain, central functionings (Nussbaum 2006; Claassen 2014). Yet other capability scholars have investigated more practical ways of avoiding paternalism, for example, by developing deliberative and democratic methods to identify relevant capabilities (Anderson 1999, 2003; Crocker 2008; Drydyk 2005).
The four presentations in this panel all engage with these discussions on why paternalism is problematic and propose novel solutions to the issue of paternalism within the capability approach. Byskov and Begon are both concerned with the abstract discussion on the value of capabilities and functionings. While Byskov argues that paternalism cannot be avoided within the capability approach because the value of capabilities depend on the value that they are real freedom to do or be, Begon, conversely, argues that paternalism can be avoided if individuals are left free to pursue their own conception of the good within certain domains that they can exercise control over.
More concretely, Watene and Jansson explore the possibility of avoiding paternalism by enhancing the self-determination of individuals and indigenous groups. Watene explores the right of indigenous people to have the collective capability for defining themselves and what is means to be an indigenous people. Similarly, by examining Sen’s notion of ‘having reason to value’ from a Deweyan perspective, Jansson argues that paternalism can be avoided only if the normative list of capabilities (and functionings) derives from the individual herself after a dialogical process designed to raise self-awareness about her values and beliefs.