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Distinguishing Disadvantage from Ill-Being in the Capability Approach
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2021 (English)In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, ISSN 1386-2820, E-ISSN 1572-8447, Vol. 24, no 4, p. 933-947Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Central capabilitarian theories of well-being focus exclusively on actual opportunities to attain states of being and doing that people have reason to value. Consequently, these theories characterise ill-being and disadvantage as deprivations of such opportunities and attainments. However, some well-being aspects are inherently negative. They make up the difference between not being well and being unwell in that they constitute ill-being. While disadvantage can be plausibly captured by deprivations, ill-being cannot be fully captured by them. I support this claim by analysing cases involving inherently negative aspects of homelessness that are not mere deprivations of opportunities to attain beings and doings that people have reason to value. I conclude that ill-being is not only about what one cannot be and do, but also about one’s enduring, and opportunities to avoid, negative beings and doings. Theories and policies should reflect this to get things right, and to do right by people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2021. Vol. 24, no 4, p. 933-947
Keywords [en]
Capability approach, Disadvantage, Homelessness, Ill-being, Well-being
National Category
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-187929DOI: 10.1007/s10677-021-10232-1ISI: 000698345700001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85115311900OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-187929DiVA, id: diva2:1597683
Available from: 2021-09-27 Created: 2021-09-27 Last updated: 2023-05-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Being well and doing good
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Being well and doing good
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Vara väl och göra gott
Abstract [en]

This dissertation contains an introductory chapter and four articles. In section 1 of the introductory chapter, I provide an overview of my argument. In section 2, I do five things. First, I show that well-being is subject-relative, meaning that well-being is always present in a life if it is present at all. Second, I restrict the discussion to people as welfare subjects. Third, I describe the levels of generality that well-being theorising can take. Fourth, I show well-being’s relations to other values. Fifth, I describe the distinction between having or not having positive well-being and enduring ill-being. In section 3 of the introductory chapter, I outline the main philosophical well-being theories. I highlight their strengths and weaknesses, before moving on to section 4 where I describe the conceptual framework I use in my articles: the capability approach. The capability approach focuses on genuine opportunities, beings, and doings. The opportunities, beings, and doings can be specified in different contexts as needed. Hence, capabilitarian analyses focusing on different opportunities, beings and doings, are available. In my articles, I argue for four things regarding those well-being analyses. First, I argue that, and show how, expert opinions and public opinions can be reconciled in well-being policy-making situations. Second, I argue that, and show how, prudentially negative beings and doings should be assessed by analysing cases of homelessness. Third, I argue that the capability approach can be used to offer a complementary account to the predominant philosophical analyses of addiction which mainly focus on its descriptive nature. My complementary analysis highlights further targets for policy-making efforts. Fourth, I argue that well-being is context-sensitive. To that end, I bolster the capability approach by refining a view called contextualism. I defend this view against counterarguments and consequently both contextualism and the capability approach are made more viable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2023. p. 47
Series
Umeå studies in philosophy, ISSN 1650-1748 ; 14
Keywords
well-being, ill-being, capability approach, monism, pluralism
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207989 (URN)978-91-8070-063-4 (ISBN)978-91-8070-064-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-06-09, Hörsal HUM.D.220 (Hörsal F), Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-05-17 Created: 2023-05-11 Last updated: 2023-05-11Bibliographically approved

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Östlund, Sebastian

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