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Over the last decade, the number of social scientists who use the capability approach in their work has grown tremendously, making the capability approach increasingly subject to different interpretations. This note clarifies some differences of interpretation regarding the capability approach’s purpose and foundation. It argues that these differences need not threaten the central insight of the capability approach or weaken its scope for providing an alternative to utilitarianism. From these various interpretations, this note broadly identifies two major interpretations, a liberalevaluative and a relational-political, which are in creative tension within the broad unified framework of what it calls the ‘capability tradition’.