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Alternative title:

Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach as an utopia


Szumlewicz, Katarzyna



Subject and Keywords:

capabilities   potentials   discrimination   emancipation   disability   homosexuality   rights of women   care work   imagination   humanist education


The essay is devoted to socioethical conception of Martha Nussbaum, known as Capabilities Approach. It is analyzed as an utopian theory of education. The theory is based on three philosophical foundations. The first one is moral philosophy of Kant, according to which every person shall be treated as an end in himself. The second is Marxian postulate to develop abilities of every person suppressed by alienation. The third one is the vision of rights of women and minorities presented by John Stuart Mill. However, Nussbaum’s reflection goes beyond 18th and 19th century conceptions, as it refers to contemporary world and to emancipatory postulates of today. The philosopher lists the most important capabilities, degree of realisation of which serves as a measurement of social development. These are: life, bodily health, bodily integrity, affiliation, control over one’s environment, practical reason, developing senses and imagination, play, and concern for the world of nature. Bodily integrity is about reproductive and sexual rights, but also about adjusting environment to the needs of people with disabilities and their care providers. Education is to be about overcoming obstacles that hinder realisation of human capabilities. Development of imagination and logical thinking is to help to develop ability to put oneself in someone else’s position and to counteract discrimination. According to Nussbaum, the society’s objective is emancipation for all, possible to reach thanks to economic structure and just legal system. The philosopher stresses the role that humanistic culture, available for all, plays in this process, as such culture brings people awareness of the richness of their own potentials.

Place of publishing:



Instytut Pedagogiki Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Date issued:



ISBN 978-83-62618-56-9






Utopia a edukacja, T. 4, s. 143-164

Rights holder:

Copyright by Katarzyna Szumlewicz

Location of original object:

Biblioteka Instytutu Pedagogiki UWr

Autor opisu: