5 November 2018

Capabilities in a Just Society – A Theory of Navigational Agency

Last month Cambridge University Press has published Capabilities in a Just Society. A Theory of Navigational Agency, a book by Dr Rutger Claassen (Ethics & Political Philosophy). 

Dr. Rutger Claassen. Foto: Ed van Rijswijk
Dr. Rutger Claassen. Foto: Ed van Rijswijk

What sort of entitlements should citizens have in a just society? In this book, Rutger Claassen sets out a theory of what he terms 'navigational agency', whereby citizens should be able to navigate freely between social practices. This shows how individuals can be at the same time free and autonomous in striving for their own goals in life, but also embedded in social practices in which they have to cooperate with others. He argues that for navigational agency, people need three sets of core capabilities: those which allow human empowerment in civil society, a decent level of socio-economic subsistence, and political participation in democratic decision-making procedures. The idea of navigational agency, the book argues, provides an alternative to currently dominant versions of the capability approach to social justice, and strengthens its liberal foundations.