Social choice and the capability approach

Salles, Maurice (2016). 'Social choice and the capability approach' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract Social choice theory is concerned with the selection of an ideal (or social) option, which can be a so-called "social state", or a social "utility", or a social preference, or a social choice "set"..., on the basis of individual utilities, or individual utility functions,  or individual preferences, or individual choice sets, or individual choice functions... A number of scholars have outlined the limited aspect of the notion of utility, among whom, notably and pre-eminently, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. Although they did not put it forward in such a strong phrase, the basic idea is to replace the notion of utility by the notion of capability (leaving aside "happiness", a notion which apparently for Sen can hardly be distinguished from utility). As has been remarked by Mozaffar Qizilbash, the development of the capability approach has been focused on the capability of an individual and, on the other hand, the idea of amalgamating or aggregating individual data is consubstantial with social choice. The purpose of this paper is to propose some preliminary ideas regarding the aggregation of individual capabilities.

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