What We Desire, What We Have Reason to Desire, Whatever We Might Desire: Mill and Sen on the Value of Opportunity
AbstractI compare Mill s and Sen s accounts of the value of opportunity, focusing on a tension between two ideas they both uphold: that individual freedom is an important component of well-being, and that, because desires can be adaptive, actual desire is not always a good indicator of what will give well-being. The two writers responses to this tension reflect different understandings of the relationship between freedom and desire. Sen links an individual s well-being to her freedom to choose what she has reason to desire, and looks to a democratic political process for a collective judgement about what it is rational to desire. Mill links the individual s well-being to her freedom to act on her own desires, whatever they may be, within the constraints imposed by a fair initial distribution of resources. He sees no need for collective judgement about what is ultimately valuable in human life. I side with Mill.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Utilitas.
Volume (Year): 18 (2006)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
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- David A. Clark, 2007. "Adaptation, Poverty and Well-Being: Some Issues and Observations with Special Reference to the Capability Approach and Development Studies," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-081, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Mozaffar Qizilbash, 2009. "Well-Being, Preference Formation and the Danger of Paternalism," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-18, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
- Binder, Martin & Witt, Ulrich, 2012. "A critical note on the role of the capability approach for sustainability economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 721-725.
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