Workshop “The Capabilities Approach & the Law”, Leeds 9th July 2014


When: 9th July 2014, 10 am -530 pm

Where: The Moot Court – The Liberty Building, University of Leeds

The Capabilities Approach proposed by Amartya Sen and others, notably Martha Nussbaum, is recognised as the most comprehensive normative language that we have for developing social interventions aimed at improving people’s lives. It has as its central characteristic a focus on what people are effectively able to be and do. It is argued that well-being and justice are best conceptualised in terms of people’s effective opportunities to undertake the activities that they want to engage in, and be whom they want to be. The approach has been highly influential in low income countries as a means of measuring and promoting development. In the last decade scholars have begun to explore its relevance to issues facing high income countries. However, whilst prominent in development studies, economics, philosophy, and health sciences, amongst other disciplines, legal scholars have been tentative in exploring the utility of this theoretical framework, notwithstanding the significance of law’s potential role in social change agendas. Challenging law’s reticence, this workshop brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars with the aim of assessing and exploring the utility of the approach across different areas of law and policy.


10.00 – 10.30                Registration & Refreshments

10.30 – 10.40 Welcome – Dr Michael Thomson, University of Leeds

10.40 – 11-40:                Jo Wolff, Professor of Philosophy, UCL,

11.40 – 12.00                 Break

12.00 – 1.00                   Embodying Capabilities

 Sridhar Venkatapuram, King’s College London

Alex Pearl, School of Law, Leeds

1.00 – 2.00                     Lunch

2.00 – 3.30                     Operationalising Capabilities

Lyn Tjon Soei Len, Reader in Law, Durham

Lyn Tjon Soei Len, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Amsterda

John Nellthorp, Senior Research Fellow, Transport Studies, Leeds.

3.30 – 4.00                     Break   

4.00 – 5.00                     Capabilities and Education

Amrita Mukherjee, Lecturer in Law, Leeds

Lisa Wintersteiger, Director of Policy

5.00 – 5.30                     Round-up
It is free to attend but places are limited. Please reserve your place by emailing Michael Thomson:

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