Transformation Without Paternalism

Thomas Wells, John B. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Human development is meant to be transformational in that it aims to improve people's lives by enhancing their capabilities. But who does it target: people as they are or the people they will become? This paper argues that the human development approach relies on an understanding of personal identity as dynamic rather than as static collections of preferences, and that this distinguishes human development from conventional approaches to development. Nevertheless, this dynamic understanding of personal identity is presently poorly conceptualized and this has implications for development practice. We identify a danger of paternalism and propose institutionalizing two procedural principles as side constraints on development policies and projects: the principle of free prior informed consent and the principle of democratic development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-376
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Human development policy
  • personal identity
  • Paternalism
  • Informed consent
  • Autonomy
  • Democracy
  • Capability approach


Dive into the research topics of 'Transformation Without Paternalism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this