Capabilities as causal powers

Nuno Martins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The author argues that Sen's capability approach is primarily a philosophical under-labouring exercise aimed at elaborating certain central economic categories, and that the philosophical and methodological underpinnings of Sen's approach are radically different from those of contemporary welfare economics and mainstream economic practice. Sen's notion of 'capabilities' as the potential functionings to achieve well-being is interpreted here as a specification of the ontological category of 'causal power', presupposing an open system conception of reality that contrasts with much of contemporary economic practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-685
Number of pages15
JournalCambridge Journal of Economics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2006


  • Capabilities
  • Ontology
  • Powers
  • Structures


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