Mary E Filice

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2013


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

James Bailey

Committee Member

Elizabeth Agnew Cochrane

Committee Member

Amiee Upjohn Light


Capability approach, Catholic Social Teaching, Common good, Human development, Solidarity, Women


This aim of this dissertation is to present the argument that Catholic Social Teaching's focus on integral human flourishing can offer theoretical input to the field of Human Development as well as practical contributions to social and political initiatives currently underway. The most powerful vehicle of communication for reporting the global position on poverty is the Human Development Report produced by the United Nations Development Programme, which adopts the Capability Approach as its evaluative framework for measuring individual well being. I propose that Catholic Social Teaching can protect the Capability Approach from its potential to lean towards individualism through the inclusion of the principles of solidarity and the common good, participation and community, and the virtue of charity.

I present my argument by first separately examining the main principles of both the Capability Approach and Catholic Social Teaching. I then have a dialogue between the two in order to show where there is common ground and then state the case for the individualistic tendency of the Capability Approach. Drawing from four major documents on human development, Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), Populorum Progressio (on the Development of Peoples), Sollitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern), and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), I develop my argument for the above contributions that can be made by Catholic Social Teaching.

Included is a chapter depicting Catholic Social Teaching in action, which offers examples of four organizations that use the principles presented with the organizations' work that strives for human flourishing. I conclude with a practical application of a program I have developed for low income women that combines the two: Catholic Social Teaching and the Capability Approach, with the goal of demonstrating that the two can work together and following Nussbaum's understanding that development discussion should be female focused.