For their effective realization, human rights need to be perceived as culturally legitimate, and this in turn requires that they be justifiable pluralistically, engaging all reliable moral discourses. In so far as a human right calls for a specific capability to be respected, protected, and fulfilled, the capability approach can contribute to this task of pluralistic justification in two ways. First, it abstracts from particular goods to valuable functionings and capabilities in a way that affirms the particular conceptions of the good that value them. However, the model of justification adopted by Nussbaum- Rawls's reflective equilibrium-needs to be replaced by anchoring this discussion in knowledge of care and neglect. Second, Nussbaum proposes that equal entitlement to central capabilities can be justified on grounds of equal human dignity, which, as I read it, means that everyone's striving (or at least responsiveness) towards living well in the company of others matters, and matters equally. This affirmation of equal dignity, however, will be undermined if it is treated (as Nussbaum does) as a 'purely political' idea excluding public support from particular moral discourses. An alternative approach, responsible pluralism, enables us to enlist the support of all reliable moral discourses in support of equal dignity, rather than confining them to the background culture or the private realm.

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Keywords Capability approach, Care, Dignity, Human rights, Pluralism
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Journal Journal of Human Development and Capabilities
Drydyk, J. (2011). Responsible pluralism, capabilities, and human rights. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 12(1), 39–61. doi:10.1080/19452829.2011.541734