Development processes and individual self-respect

Project Report, 2014
22 Pages, Grade: 7,0


Table of Content


List of Abbreviation


2.1 Research Question
2.2 Methods
2.3 Literature Review
2.4 Study Limitations


4.1 Individual values
4.2 Free-Will
4.3 Capabilities
4.4 Reflection




This paper begins with an introduction on the importance of self-respect and its conception. It then, proceeds to the methodology section highlighting the research question, the method of inquiry, study limitations and literature review. It moves to look at the concept of Self-respect by John Rawls in his Theory of Justice where the two key components of self-respect is highlighted. It then continue to the discussion and Analysis section where the three aspects of self-respect in the category of individual values, free-will and capabilities are discussed in relation to development processes. Then, it takes a reflection on the specific development strategies of participatory development and women empowerment by highlighting the actual obstacles in guaranteeing self-respect in the processes of development. The paper then concludes that without some minimum guarantees on basic conditions of living, realization of self-respect in development processes will remain quite a challenge.

List of Abbreviation

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The concern of what to make the development theme has been at the center of development discourse over the period. Scholars and practitioners have come up with different themes of development from economic growth to people-centered development. Within the latter, there have been questions of whether people should be treated as patients or agents of development. Whether, they are treated as patients with needs to be attended to or as agents with a responsibility and ability to act has a bearing on the individual self-respect. The concern with individual dignity and development is not new but can be traced back to Denis Goulet who is considered the father of development ethics.

In the same fashion as the search for the development theme so has been the search for the best development strategy. The strategies which have ranged from pure economic growth to growth with re-distribution, to participatory development to freedom et al. have had effects on the individual dignity. The concern with the individual self-respect in all the development strategies is anchored on the fact that development is taking place in different diverse cultural settings and under different circumstances. The need for a development strategy that will accommodate cultural diversity and preserve individual values has been desired all through.

This paper therefore, will look at the concept of individual self-respect and how it has been incorporated in the development processes. Individual Self-respect is treated here as the ability of the individual person to freely initiate a life plan and pursue it. Self-respect here therefore is treated as the individual values, freedom and capacity to pursue whatever he has decided on as the life objective. This paper shall use John Rawls’s Theory of Justice and his conception of Self-respect in investigating how development processes have upheld self-respect. The themes of individual values, free-will and capacities has been used in understanding the incorporation of self-respect in the development strategies.

The works of scholars like Denis Goulet who is credited as the father of development ethics has be reflected upon. The theme of free-will which Amartya Sen has written a lot has led to the reflection on his work. Capabilities and looking at individuals as agents of development and not patients with needs as championed by Sen has made his works of further interest to this paper. Martha Nussbaum and her work on capabilities has been used, in a bid to understand how development processes promote self-respect. Other writers on specific development strategies have also been used to expound on how these strategies incorporate self-respect.

It will take a reflection on the specific development strategies like the participatory development and Women Empowerment to provide the short-comings of these strategies in upholding self-respect in actual implementation. The actual obstacles in the real world to realization of self-respect in the process of implementation of the development strategies. The paper will then, conclude that self-respect in the development processes only possible when some basic conditions have been met in regard to securing survival.


The understanding of how this work has been done and organized is given by this particular section. It provides the research question that has prompted the writing of this paper. It proceeds to provide the actual method that has been used in writing this work. Before it provides the literature review and finally provide study limitation.

2.1 Research Question

The need to promote development in the world and to do it the best way has dominated the scholarly work for several years today. The strategies have been adopted and improved on now and again to embrace different aspects of development including the determination of what to focus on to achieve development. Scholars writing as early as 1970s had begun questioning the moral issues in development as well as attempts by individuals like Denis Goulet to develop Ethics of development. It is in this vein that this paper seeks to probe the development processes and how they have incorporated the self-respect. Consequently, the paper is concerned with; how development processes uphold self-respect.

2.2 Methods

The writing of this paper shall be based on the literary works of other scholars who have concerned themselves of how best development outcomes can be achieved. The works of scholars who have perceived development under different themes like freedom, capabilities et al shall be referred. John Rawls principle of self-respect in the theory of justice has been used in the analysis of this work. This principle has outline the key desirables of development which are capabilities, freedom and individual values. The aspects which are intrinsic to all individuals irrespective of their gender or bias

It has analyzed the three key aspects of self-respect in relation to the development processes across different strategies. To bring to picture how these development processes have upheld self-respect in regard to the three aspects of individual values, free-will and capabilities. Further, it has narrowed down to the specific development strategies of PD and Women Empowerment to provide a view of how challenging it can be to adhere to this principle in actual implementation of the chosen strategies.

2.3 Literature Review

The works of John Rawls on the theory of justice has been used to provide the theoretical guide in writing this work. In the same vein, the works of Amartya Sen on freedom and capabilities have been referred to in this work. Suffice to mention the works of Martha Nussbaum on capabilities as well as Denis Goulet of Participatory development and his ethics of development. Further, the works of Nigel Dower, Kate Young et al have been used in the analysis of the development processes against self-respect.

2.4 Study Limitations

This paper using the principle of self-respect in the theory of justice by John Rawls has not considered other principles of justice hence making it limited in its scope to the chosen principle. Further, the same principle has been critiqued meaning that even by the use of the principle it shall not be all comprehensive. By the adoption of the key aspects of self-respect as its basis of analysis, this paper is limited in covering the all development strategies compressively. Likewise, by its focus on the development processes it does not fully cover the other aspects of development.


In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls describes self-respect as the most important social primary good (Rawls 1972). This in essence means that in any given social system, self-respect take precedence. Rawls has gone ahead to provide two key aspects of self-respect to be; ‘‘First . . . it includes a person’s sense of his own value, his secure conviction that his conception of his good, his plan of life, is worth carrying out. And second, self-respect implies a confidence in one’s ability, so far as it is within one’s power, to fulfill one’s intentions’’ (Rawls 1972). This implies that the self-respect embodied the plan of life and one’s ability to achieve the intended life goals.

In tandem to the above, Zink has observed that, assurance of an individual’s sense of value and the aim provides the motivation to pursue the life plan(Zink 2011). This means that the system in place must guarantee to the individuals that their value and the value of their aims are achievable within their power. When individuals feel that the system fails to guarantee this to them then, they suffer demotivation. Zink has continued to observe that, it is the individual’s abilities that provide the confidence needed to pursue the life plan irrespective of the value attached to it(Zink 2011). The two aspects here are related in the sense that the individual must have confidence in his life which would provide the motivation to execute the life plan.

Rawls self-respect, has both the social and agent-relative element. Rawls has opined that, without the conviction that other people respect our undertakings, then it is difficult or impossible to continue pursuing them (Rawls 1972). This is the social dimension of the self-respect which depends on others who are around us. It is only possible to have the motivation to execute our life plan when we are convince others also value our ends. This means that despite the inner will to carry out our life plans the society that we live in has a role in approving/appreciating our life plan a dynamics necessary for motivation and determination in achieving life plans.

Rawls associates the first aspect of self-respect with the Aristotelian Principle, which holds that individuals derive joy in exercising their realized capacities whether innate or trained abilities which increases as they acquire more capacities or as situations turn complex in normal situations (Rawls 1972). This in essence means that motivation for an individual to pursue life goals is dependent and intrinsic on capabilities. The capabilities gives individuals’ confidence to pursue their life goals and lack of which lowers one’s morale. The capabilities here include both acquired training and natural skills that an individual is endowed with which enable him to pursue his life plan.

From the foregoing, Rawls provide dual aspect of self-respect one which depend on others and another which depends on an individual’s own life value and motivations. In the first instance, it is difficult to live for others and in the second instance people will hate you when you set to pursue your life values with little or no regard to them. Individuals have the ability to act and pursue their life plans without giving consideration to the society but the society serves to provide the valuable ingredient of approval which results into motivation. But must an individual look upon the society or others to endorse his life plan and will they be happy with each and every individual plan.

In balancing this phenomenon, Rawls argues that equality should be the fundamental basis of organization in the society for justice and self-respect to prevail (Rawls 1972). To Rawls therefore, for any society to prosper by allowing people to pursue their life plans and at the same time get approval and motivation necessary for the pursuit then, fairness must be the basis of the society. This theory emphasizes on the development of individual abilities to pursue the life plans which are freely conceived and pursued in a society based on justice.


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Development processes and individual self-respect
Aalborg University  (Development and International Studies)
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This work provides a concise relationship between the development projects and the guarantee of individual self-Respect according to Rawls theory of Justice.
Eyong Eta Mbuagbaw
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Calvince Omondi Barack (Author)Eyong Eta Mbuagbaw (Author), 2014, Development processes and individual self-respect, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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