The capabilities approach as ethical foundation for a cognition policy based on a metric of 'cognitive footprint'


  • Dr Jeroen Luyten

    London School of Economics and Political Science

Project summary

Cognition (the set of all mental abilities) is quintessential to human functioning and is one of society’s most valuable assets. However, unlike physical health, disability, economic growth or happiness, it has never become a focal point of public policy. 

The case has been made for a cognition policy and a metric for policy evaluation, a ‘cognitive footprint’. This project will investigate the ethical basis of such a cognition metric for policy evaluation purposes. 

A starting point is Sen’s ‘capabilities approach’ to the goals and limitations of public policy, which defines real human wellbeing in terms of development and flourishing rather than wealth or happiness. This framework has become influential in many domains of health and social care, and offers a basis on which to explore the contours of an ethical cognition policy.