Nussbaum on Principles for the International Structure

Martha Nussbaum, one of my favorite living political philosophers, has a new paper on what the capabilities approach on political justice implies on the international level.

“The capabilities approach is an outcome-oriented approach. It says that a world in which people have all the capabilities on the list is a minimally just and decent world. Domestically, it interprets the purpose of social cooperation as that of establishing principles and institutions that guarantee that all human beings have the capabilities on the list, or can effectively claim them if they do not. . . .In the international case, how should the approach precede? . . . We think about human dignity and what it requires. My approach suggests that we ought to do this in an Aristotelian/Marxian way, thinking about the prerequisites for living a life that is fully human rather than subhuman, a life worthy of the dignity of the human being. We include in this idea the idea of the human being as a being with, in Marx’s phrase, “rich human need,” which includes the need to live cooperatively with others. We insist that a fundamental part of the good of each and every human being will be to cooperate together for the fulfillment of human needs and the realization of fully human lives. We now argue that this fully human life requires many things from the world: adequate nutrition, education of the faculties, protection of bodily integrity, liberty for speech and religious self-expression – and so forth. If this is so, then we all have entitlements based on justice to a minimum of each of these central goods.”

Those interested in her paper, “Beyond the Social Contract: Capabilities and Global Justice,” can find it here.