Measuring Justice

by Harry on February 28, 2010

Cambridge has just published a new book, Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities (UK), which Ingrid and I edited (the idea of doing it was entirely Ingrid’s, I should say, and a brilliant idea it turned out to be). Its a fairly tightly focused collection, for which we invited two kinds of contribution. It opens with a shortened version of Pogge’s essay “Can the Capabilities Approach be Justified?” which many of the contributors refer back to, and the first part continues with a series of chapters considering the relative merits of Rawls’s social primary goods approach and the capabilities approach to the metric of justice; for this we invited contributors whom we believed would defend one or another of these metrics while giving careful criticisms of the rival, plus Dick Arneson whom we believed (rightly) could be relied on to help make progress despite not being associated with either view. For the second part we invited contributors who would think about some specific issue of justice (in health, education, gender, the family, disability) and consider the relative merits of the approaches with respect to that specific issue. We wrote a short analytical introduction which locates the debate in a broader context, and which, we hope, helps guide the reader through the book (the CUP page has a pdf of it, so you can judge for yourselves); the book concludes with a nice, partly autobiographical, essay by Sen engaging with the chapters in the first part of the book. The contributors so far unmentioned are Erin Kelly, Elizabeth Anderson, Norman Daniel, Lorella Terzi, Colin MacLeod, and Elaine Unterhalter. This is the second volume I’ve co-edited for Cambridge, and both times they have come up with much better titles than the editors would have done, good-looking but demure covers, and, most importantly, a reasonable price.