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Irreducibly social goods and the informational basis of Amartya Sen's capability approach


    (UNCTAD, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, Macro-economic and Development Policies Branch, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland)

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    This paper argues that Sen's capability approach requires that judgements about the relative goodness of states of affairs must be based exclusively on 'properties' of individuals. Functionings and capabilities are seen, like utility and opulence, as objects of value which individuals have-achieved or attainable effects which are disembedded from the institutional contexts of human activity. If such contexts are intrinsically valuable for individual well-being, as some 'communitarians' argue, the capability approach is inappropriate for assessing social justice, societal well-being and development, and inequalities in individual well-being across cultures or in multicultural societies. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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

    Volume (Year): 9 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 235-250

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:9:y:1997:i:2:p:235-250
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    1. Sen, Amartya, 1988. "The concept of development," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 9-26 Elsevier.
    2. Sen, Amartya, 1993. "Markets and Freedoms: Achievements and Limitations of the Market Mechanism in Promoting Individual Freedoms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 519-41, October.
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