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Sen is not a capability theorist

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  • Antoinette Baujard
  • Muriel Gilardone

Abstract

This paper aims to clarify the status of capability in Sen’s idea of justice. Sen’s name is so widely associated with the concept of capability that commentators often assume that his contribution to the study of justice amounts to a capability theory, albeit underdeveloped. We argue that such a reading is misleading. Taking Sen’s reticence about operationalization seriously, we show that his contribution is inconsistent with a capability theory. Instead, we defend the idea that the capability approach plays a heuristic role: capability is a step in his argument against alternative materials, but is not meant as a definitive end. Sen defends a critical perspective primarily to encourage public reasoning and respect for agency as regards the definition of what should count in the evaluation of social states.

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  • Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2017. "Sen is not a capability theorist," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 1-19, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:24:y:2017:i:1:p:1-19
    DOI: 10.1080/1350178X.2016.1257821
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    1. Amartya Sen, 2008. "The Idea of Justice," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 331-342.
    2. Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2017. "Sen is not a capability theorist," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 1-19, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Séverine Deneulin and Jhonatan Clausen, 2018. "Collective Choice and Social Welfare by Amartya Sen:A Review Essay with Reference to Development in Peru," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp113.pdf, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    2. Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2017. "Sen is not a capability theorist," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 1-19, January.
    3. Guilhem Lecouteux & Ivan Mitrouchev, 2021. "The "View from Manywhere": Normative Economics with Context-Dependent Preferences," GREDEG Working Papers 2021-19, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    4. Nicolas Brisset & Benoît Walraevens, 2021. "From capital to property: History and justice in the work of Thomas Piketty [Du capital à la propriété: Histoire et justice dans le travail de Thomas Piketty]," Post-Print hal-03250042, HAL.
    5. Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2016. "Positional views as the cornerstone of Sen’s idea of justice," Post-Print halshs-01366695, HAL.
    6. Muriel Gilardone, 2018. "The influence of Sen’s applied economics on his “social choice” approach to justice: agency at the core of public action to remove injustice," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2018-01-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
    7. Muriel Gilardone, 2019. "3 enfants, 1 flûte : le choix des principes de justice chez Amartya Sen," Post-Print halshs-02274935, HAL.
    8. Antoinette BAUJARD & Muriel GILARDONE, 2020. "Reconciling agency and impartiality: positional views as the cornerstone of Sen’s idea of justice," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2020-03-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
    9. Antoinette Baujard & Adrien Lutz, 2018. "The capacity to confuse: rescuing the Saint-Simonian notion of ability from modern capability theories of social justice," Working Papers halshs-01963252, HAL.
    10. Erasmo, Valentina, 2021. "Female economists and philosophers’ role in Amartya Sen’s thought: his colleagues and his scholars," MPRA Paper 105769, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Muriel Gilardone, 2018. "3 enfants, 1 flûte : le choix des principes de justice chez Amartya Sen," Working Papers halshs-02274935, HAL.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D79 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Other
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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