Becuse of the fct of humn diversity, equlity in cpbility spce-the spce of freedom to promote or chieve vluble objectives-will, in fct, go long with inequlity in other spces.
The following four sections will introduce Sen's cpbility pproch through four of its core concepts: functionings, freedom, plurlism, nd incompleteness. Besides, I will discuss the historicl context of the Sen's cpbility pproch in terms of other theories (for exmple, Rwl's theory of Justice) s n importnt fctor of influence to uthor's formtion of the theory.
Sen rgues tht functionings-tht is, 'the vrious things person my vlue doing or being' -tken together crete better conceptul spce in which to ssess socil welfre thn utility or opulence. Functionings re 'beings nd doings', such s being nourished, being confident, or tking prt in group decisions (Sen, 2000). The word is of ristotelin origin nd, like ristotle, Sen clims, significntly, tht functionings re constitutive of person's being. So when Oxfm undertkes to evlute n individul's or group of persons' well-being (in the course, perhps, of ssessing their qulity of life, stndrd of living, socil welfre, or level of poverty), Sen would rgue tht it must hve in view their functionings. How did the 'beings nd doings' of the rose growers expnd nd contrct
The focus on functionings sets the cpbility pproch off from other pproches to the evlution of well-being. For exmple mny would evlute well-being in the spce of psychic utility or preference fulfilment (the cpbility pproch hs been developed during period when welfre economics hs been dominted by fulfilled preference formultions of utilitrinism). Others would evlute it in terms of income per cpit, or in terms of the commodities persons were ble to commnd. Still others, following Rwls, would ssess well-being in the spce of primry goods (which include commodities nd other goods such s liberty nd self-respect).
In explining nd defending the cpbility pproch, Sen typiclly demonstrtes the flws in these lterntive pproches nd then shows tht such flws re corrected in the cpbility pproch. For exmple, economic theory hs often interpreted welfre peculirly in terms of psychologicl hppiness or desire-fulfilment, yet the mgnitude of chnge in mentl utility sttes (for exmple) my not trck in ny predictble fshion the vlue of chnge (Sen, 2000). Sen often gives the exmple of how the perennilly deprived become reconciled with their circumstnces nd pprecitive of smll mercies, thus their desires re muted nd their psychic plesure t smll improvements to their sitution is disproportionte to the benefit judged from nother perspective. Ddi Tj, for exmple, terribly poor but devout widow, my often be serene nd even hppy. In different vein, Sen questions Rwls's proposl to require equlity in the spce of primry goods becuse the sme mount of rice (or other goods) will be converted into rdiclly different levels of physicl vigour for child, in the cse of disbled teenger, s ginst n griculturl worker, or n elderly womn. Sen rgues tht Rwls's resoning cn be brodened to tke greter note of the contingency of circumstnces. For we re relly interested in wht persons re