The Theory of Natural Diversity: Beyond the Capability Approach

CHEN, JASON (2012). "The Theory of Natural Diversity: Beyond the Capability Approach" Paper presented at the 9th annual conference of the HDCA, 5-7 September 2012, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Many of those who are convinced of the capability approach naturally incorporate counterfactual assumptions into assessments of well-being. Specifically, we assume that under conditions of freedom, there should be a proportional distribution of life pursuits, meaning the demographic makeup of most professions should reflect the demographic makeup of the greater population. Accordingly, we take a diverging distribution to be a possible sign of a lack of capability. But why do we have this intuition? The capability approach cannot account for it since it only tells us what to look at when assessing the quality of life. The goal of this paper is to account for this intuition. I argue that our expectation of a proportional distribution is based on an element of universality, which, in turn, consists of the natural diversity of talent and the natural diversity of experience. The interaction of those two factors create a chaotic situation from which a proportional distribution is simply the most probable result. Furthermore, the interaction of the two also dictate that under conditions of freedom, we should see a diverse distribution of life pursuits. Since the current CA literature seems to lack this element, my paper suggests that perhaps a new discussion needs to take place and that perhaps a new well-being index needs to be created.
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