Venkatapuram’s Capability Theory of Health : A Critical Discussion

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Venkatapuram’s Capability Theory of Health : A Critical Discussion

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Venkatapuram’s Capability Theory of Health : A Critical Discussion
Author(s) Per-Anders, Tengland
Date 2016
English abstract
The discussion about theories of health has recently had an important new input through the work of Sridhar Venkatapuram. He proposes a combination of Lennart Nordenfelt's holistic theory of health and Martha Nussbaum's version of the capability approach. The aim of the present article is to discuss and evaluate this proposal. The article starts with a discussion of Nordenfelt's theory and evaluates Venkatapuram’ critique of it, that is, of its relativism, both regarding goals and environment, and of the subjectivist theory of happiness used. Then the article explains why Nordenfelt's idea of a reasonable environment is not a problem for the theory, and it critiques Venkatapuram's own incorporation of the environment into the concept of health, suggesting that this makes the concept too wide. It contends, moreover, that Venkatapuram's alternative theory retains a problem inherent in Nordenfelt's theory, namely, that health is conceived of as a second-order ability. It is argued that health should, instead, be defined as first-order abilities. This means that health cannot be seen as a capability, and also that health cannot be seen as a meta-capability of the kind envisioned by Venkatapuram. It is, furthermore, argued that the theory lacks one crucial aspect of health, namely, subjective wellbeing. Finally, the article tries to illustrate how health, in the suggested alternative sense, as first-order abilities, fits into Nussbaum's capability theory, since health as an ‘actuality’ is part of all the ‘combined capabilities’ suggested by Nussbaum.
DOI (link to publisher's fulltext.)
Publisher Wileys
Host/Issue Bioethics;1
Volume 30
ISSN 1467-8519
Pages 8-18
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Venkatapuram
subjective well-being
capabilities approach
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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