A home of one’s own | Philosophical considerations on the issue of housing
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- Master theses 
While architects, social psychologists, anthropologists and historians have conceptualized it in varied ways, little has been made of the issue of housing in philosophy. The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that many aspects of housing relate directly to fundamental philosophical concepts and questions. I revisit notions of justice, freedom, dignity, equality and privacy through the lens of the house, and make a case for bringing the issue of housing to salience in normative philosophical theorizing. Two simple questions thread their way through the text: What constitutes adequate housing? And, why does housing matter? As possible answers to these questions, I discuss significant characteristics of one’s house and use diverse case studies to highlight how such features are meaningfully entangled with ethics, morality, law and politics. I borrow and elaborate on the capability approach to identify features of the adequate house, which I situate within the contemporary landscape, weighing up clashing private, collective and common property rules. My hope – and my normative claim – is that viewed collectively, these features make evident that philosophers ought to consider the issue of housing seriously if they are to engage in conceptualizing and contributing to human welfare. In Chapter 1, I lay the conceptual grounds for an account of housing adequacy, working from the United Nations’ descriptions of the human right to housing and its associated provisions. I discuss the capability approach, stressing its focus on essential human functionings and wellbeing, and contrasting it with a basic needs approach: I do so to make the case that a human right to housing understood in terms of needs runs the risk of being minimally defined, thus limiting its defense in ways which conceal housing’s true importance. My argument is that housing is physical shelter plus other things that are personal and existentially significant: in Chapter 2, I look at actions which are enabled by adequate housing. The first section, “Considerations on the body”, emphasizes essential bodily doings and beings, and studies them in light of our established culture of property rights. The second section, “Considerations on the mind”, tackles the phenomenology of being housed, and makes an argument for its mind-related significance. Finally, to justify the human right to housing, I also have to show that the duties it would impose are identifiable and reasonably justiﬁable, and borne by a specific ensemble of addressees, people or agencies. This is what I set to do in Chapter 3. I identify and describe the housing-related duties and responsibilities which befall on States, municipal authorities and individuals. I then frame architects and professionals of the built environment as overlooked bearers of duties relating to the right to an adequate house. I conclude the research by offering a tentative definition of housing adequacy.