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Rethinking human well-being: a dialogue with Amartya Sen

  • Ananta Kumar Giri

    (Madras Institute of Development Studies, India)

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    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.

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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 1003-1018

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:12:y:2000:i:7:p:1003-1018
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/5102/home

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    1. Sen, Amartya, 1998. "Human development and financial conservatism," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 733-742, April.
    2. Sen, Amartya, 1989. "Food and freedom," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 769-781, June.
    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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