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SEN’S ECONOMIC PHILOSOPHY Capabilities and Human Development in the Revival of Economics as a Moral Science

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Sen joins a line of economists – including Cropsey, Schumacher, Myrdal, Ward, Higgins and Etzioni – who have objected to the implicit political philosophy within orthodox neo-classical economics. He argues that the good or just society requires policies to remove all forms of “unfreedoms”, and policies to equalise the extent of capability deprivation. This capabilities approach calls for a rejection of utilitarianism, libertarianism and Rawlsianism in favour of the conception of justice provided by his putatively Smithian/Aristotelian approach. In taking the expansion of freedom to be both the principal end and the principal means of development, however, Sen ignores other philosophical positions which lead to quite different conclusions. Accordingly, his argument remains incomplete and unpersuasive, and the most fundamental questions remain to be resolved.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 366.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:366

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  1. Amartya Sen, 1997. "Development and Thinking at the Beginning of the 21st Century," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics 02, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Sen, Amartya K, 1979. "Personal Utilities and Public Judgements: Or What's Wrong with Welfare Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(355), pages 537-58, September.
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