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What Can the Capabilities Approach Learn from an Ubuntu Ethic? A Relational Approach to Development Theory

Nimi Hoffmann and Thaddeus Metz

World Development, 2017, vol. 97, issue C, 153-164

Abstract: Over the last two decades, the capabilities’ approach has become an increasingly influential theory of development. It conceptualizes human wellbeing in terms of an individual’s ability to achieve functionings we have reason to value. In contrast, the ethic of ubuntu views human flourishing as the propensity to pursue relations of fellowship with others, such that relationships have fundamental value. These two theoretical perspectives seem to be in tension with each other. While the capabilities’ approach seems to focus on individuals as the locus of ethical value, an ubuntu ethic concentrates on the relations between individuals as the locus.

Keywords: African ethics; capabilities’ approach; poverty; ubuntu; development theory; relational ethics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:97:y:2017:i:c:p:153-164