Martha C. Nussbaum: Human Capabilities, Female Human Beings

Susan Wolf

in Women, Culture, and Development

Published in print November 1995 | ISBN: 9780198289647
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596698 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

  Martha C. Nussbaum: Human Capabilities, Female Human Beings

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Wolf endorses Martha Nussbaum's stance and offers constructive criticism of some of its ambiguities and complications. Wolf's caveats point out that (1) Nussbaum's discussion of ‘human beings’ (as opposed to ‘persons’) unnecessarily risks biology‐linked issues of speciesism and sexism; (2) Nussbaum's list of essential human capabilities needs clarification in its application to avoid misdirected objections; (3) Nussbaum's development ethic require further elaboration to meet questions of how to set priorities and make trade‐offs among people or goods; and (4) Nussbaum's one‐humanity‐fits‐all claim does not capture the historical and cultural contingency and inevitability of gender differentiation.

Keywords: development ethic; gender differentiation; human functioning capabilities; sexism; speciesism

Chapter.  5447 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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