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Ethics and Development: An Introduction from the Perspective of the Capability Approach

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Abstract

The paper argues that development, understood as the set of economic, social, cultural and political processes oriented towards improving people’s lives, is a normative project which rests on ethical foundations. Working in international development requires therefore an ethical reflection. The paper discusses development ethics as an inter-disciplinary field of study. It describes one leading contemporary ethical perspective in development studies, the capability approach, and examines how it can be used to analyse concrete cases of development. It argues that the capability approach presents aspects of different ethical frameworks, each of which provides a distinctive angle to the ethical analysis of development processes. The paper concludes with analysing a development case in Peru using the capability approach.

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