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Rethinking human well-being: a dialogue with Amartya Sen

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  • Ananta Kumar Giri

    (Madras Institute of Development Studies, India)

Abstract

The paper undertakes a critical dialogue with the perspective of human well-being offered by Amartya Sen. Sen's notions of functioning and capability of individuals lack emphasis on self-development and how individuals can themselves advance their functioning and capability. Further, his notion of well-being as distinct from the agency aspect of the human person and his dualism of negative and positive freedom are not helpful for what Sen himself calls a comprehensive redefinition of human development as a quest for freedom. Finally, freedom is not sufficient, and development as freedom needs to be supplemented by a quest for development as responsibility. To overcome all this is difficult within Sen's frame of reference because of its lack of an ontological striving or a deep conceptualization of self and self-preparation. This prevents realization of the full potential of his quest for a wider supportive environment for human well-being, consisting of internal criticism of traditions, a pluralist framework of secular toleration and an epistemology of positional objectivity. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Ananta Kumar Giri, 2000. "Rethinking human well-being: a dialogue with Amartya Sen," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 1003-1018.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:12:y:2000:i:7:p:1003-1018
    DOI: 10.1002/1099-1328(200010)12:7<1003::AID-JID698>3.0.CO;2-U
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sen, Amartya, 1989. "Food and freedom," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 769-781, June.
    2. Sen, Amartya, 1998. "Human development and financial conservatism," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 733-742, April.
    3. Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, 1994. "Sustainable Human Development: Concepts and Priorities," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-1994-03, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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    Cited by:

    1. Gasper, D.R., 2004. "Human well-being : concepts and conceptualizations," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19148, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    2. Des Gasper, 2002. "Is Sen's Capability Approach an Adequate Basis for Considering Human Development?," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 435-461.
    3. Gasper, D.R., 2002. "Is Sen's Capability Approach an Adequate Basis for Considering Human Development," ISS Working Papers - General Series 50674, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    4. Gasper, D.R. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. & Truong, T-D. & Walker, A., 2008. "Human security and social quality: contrasts and complementaries," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18731, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    5. Des Gasper, 2000. "Development as freedom: taking economics beyond commodities-the cautious boldness of Amartya Sen," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 989-1001.
    6. Truong, T-D., 2009. "Feminist knowledge and human security," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18712, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    7. Ali DOUAI (GREThA), 2007. "Wealth, Well-being and Value(s): A Proposition of Structuring Concepts for a (real) Transdisciplinary Dialogue within Ecological Economics," Cahiers du GREThA 2007-18, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    8. Fabio Zagonari, 2011. "Which Ethics Will Make us Individually and Socially Happier? A Cross-Culture and Cross-Development Analytical Model," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 77-103, March.
    9. Gasper, Des, 2004. "Human Well-being: Concepts and Conceptualizations," WIDER Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Brenda Parlee & Chris Furgal, 2012. "Well-being and environmental change in the arctic: a synthesis of selected research from Canada’s International Polar Year program," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 13-34, November.
    11. Gasper, D.R., 2007. "Human Rights, Human Needs, Human Development, Human Security," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18749, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.

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