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Osterlaken, Ilse (2009). "The capability approach, neutrality towards good life and technology " Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.
Three theses give rise to this paper. Firstly, the capability approach is often presented as largely avoiding paternalism and remaining neutral with respect to the good life. Secondly, it can be argued that technology is of immense importance for expanding people’s capabilities. Thirdly, literature in philosophy of technology and in science and technology studies (STS) suggests that technology is not neutral with respect to the good life. Together this raises the question: is the capability approach’s thesis of neutrality towards the good life tenable in a world in which technology enables so many of our capabilities? In order to answer this question, this paper will explore two further questions in more detail. Firstly, how should we exactly understand the capability approach’s thesis of neutrality towards the good life? And secondly, what is exactly the relation between technology and the good life, according to STS researchers and philosophers of technology?