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Extending Capabilities Conception of the Individual in Economics: Relationality and Responsibility

Erasmo, Valentina (2021): Extending Capabilities Conception of the Individual in Economics: Relationality and Responsibility.

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Abstract

This paper tries to extend the Capabilities Conception of the Individual developed by Davis (2003, 2009), understanding capabilities as relationships. Firstly, I will introduce the main concepts which are useful towards this extension, namely those of agency and capabilities. For this purpose, I will avail of Ricoeur (2004) analysis of Sen’s earlier works. Thanks to his analysis, I will show how agency refers to a rational and responsible exercise of capabilities. After this introduction, I will develop the concept of capabilities as relationships, availing of the distinction between intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships (Giovanola 2005, 2009): in this framework, self-scrutiny and relationality respectively become the leading capabilities of these two relationships. Since this extension of capabilities conception of individuals, two concepts arise with a certain strength, namely those of responsibility and relationality. In contrast, this extension of capabilities conception of individual in economics also in terms of interpersonal relationship emphasizes how this social conception of individual is characterized by relationality. This point is relevant because enables further extensions of Sen’s works, for example, in civil economics.

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