Capability is the core concept of the capability approach, which is a broad normative framework for the evaluation of individual well-being and social arrangements, and the development of policies and social change. The central claim of the capability approach is that these evaluations and proposals should rely upon an analysis of the (expected) changes in the capabilities of individuals or groups. Although the precise terminology has changed a little over time, the most widely-used description of capability is the real opportunity or freedom to be the person one wants to be, and do the things one wants to do. These beings and doings are called functionings. The expansion of people’s capabilities is the central normative goal of the human development approach, which is best known from the Human Development Reports which are annually published by the United Nations Development Programme.

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Erasmus School of Philosophy

Robeyns, I. (2011). Capability. Retrieved from