Nussbaum's capabilities

The paper should be 4-6 pages typed, double-spaced and in MLA format with works cited.

In Sex and Social Justice, Martha Nussbaum presents us with a list of human capabilities that she insists

“ought” to be our political goals. She emphasizes the importance of “practical reason, as a good that both

suffuses all the other functions, making them human rather than animal, and figures, itself, as a central

function on the list.” She also insists that “a life that lacks any one of these capabilities, no matter what

else it has, will fall short of being a good human life.” 


1. Research an example of a particular capability that you identify as lacking in a particular society.

2. Using and explaining to your readers Nussbaum’s conception of “capabilities,” “a good human

life,” and “practical reason” attempt to describe the injustice, why is it an injustice and who is

acting unjust?

3. Lastly, propose a possible step that might be taken to achieve the capabilities for those lacking a

capability that Nussbaum has enumerated, argue for justice in the issue.

This prompt has many parts, consider your audience and the thesis that you want them to get. What is the

message that you have for the audience about the issue that you have investigated and that you have applied

Nussbaum’s conceptual understanding to?

The goal of this essay is to communicate in Academic Discourse your understanding of the Capabilities

Approach and how it can be used to locate and affect change to social injustice.

Criteria for Prompt

1. A successful paper will explain clearly in some detail Nussbaum’s conceptions of the “central

human functional capabilities”.

2. A successful paper will establish the relationship between practical reason, capabilities, and the

political goal Nussbaum sets forth.

3. A successful paper will propose a possible step that might be taken to achieve the capabilities that

Nussbaum has enumerated or whether it is worthwhile to try.

4. A successful paper will use Nussbaum’s and another 5 texts at least 2 from the databases to

support its points.

5. A successful paper will be one that crafts an effective organization for the multiple questions that

it addressed.

6. A successful paper will be carefully edited and proofread, with special attention to contextualizing

sources and citing them correctly.