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Ethically-speaking, what is the most reasonable way of evaluating housing outcomes?

This paper addresses one of the most fundamental, but least considered, questions in housing research: how should we ultimately evaluate housing outcomes? Rejecting the fact vs value dichotomy so dominant in the social sciences, this paper draws on the work of Amartya Sen and Hilary Putnam to critically assess the ethical assumptions behind three commonly adopted “informational spaces” for evaluating housing outcomes: economic, subjective and “objective” metrics. It argues that all three fail to account for the plurality of goods that individuals have reason to value and the fallibility of human judgement. As an alternative, it proposes that housing outcomes should be ultimately evaluated in terms of people’s “housing capabilities” – the effective freedoms that people have in their homes and neighbourhoods to do and feel the things they have reason to value – which should generally be determined through a bottom-up process of democratic deliberation involving critical and expert perspectives.

Author: Dr Chris Foye

Read the full journal article Housing, Theory and Society.

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Date: January 9, 2020 10:36 am

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