IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ags/masddp/23702.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Overcoming Positivism In Economics: Amartya Sen'S Project Of Infusing Ethics Into Economics

Author

Listed:
  • Alvey, James E.

Abstract

Logical Positivism, which arose in philosophy early in the twentieth century, proclaimed the sharp distinction between facts and values. Despite objections at the time, positivism was imported into economics in the 1930s. Over time, objections lessened; economics was transformed and ethical considerations were driven out of its core. In the 1950s, debates about positivism arose within the discipline which had exported it. According to the American philosopher Hilary Putnam, the fact/value distinction is now discredited in philosophy. If that is so, the methodological foundations of contemporary economics are also discredited. In this article I examine Amartya Sen’s moral science of economics. First, I will present his historical account of the connections between economics and ethics. Sen claims that there was a close connection between the two until positivism was imported. Second, I will sketch some of Sen’s ethical objections to modern economics, which is still suffering from positivism. Finally, I will lay out some of his ideas on how economics can be returned to an ethical path. Once the ground has been cleared of positivism, ethics can re-emerge in economics in various ways. One path has been marked out by Sen.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvey, James E., 2005. "Overcoming Positivism In Economics: Amartya Sen'S Project Of Infusing Ethics Into Economics," Discussion Papers 23702, Massey University, Department of Applied and International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:masddp:23702
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.23702
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/23702/files/dp050003.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.22004/ag.econ.23702?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sen, Amartya K, 1980. "Description as Choice," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 353-369, November.
    2. Sen, Amartya K, 1973. "Behaviour and the Concept of Preference," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(159), pages 241-259, August.
    3. Pundarik Mukhopadhaya & Srikanta Chatterjee, 2000. "Unfashionable economics selected contributions of Amartya K. Sen: 1998 economics nobel laureate," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 25-51.
    4. Sen, Amartya, 1983. "Poor, Relatively Speaking," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 153-169, July.
    5. Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
    6. Klamer, Arjo, 1989. "A Conversation with Amartya Sen," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 135-150, Winter.
    7. Amartya K. Sen, 1966. "Labour Allocation in a Cooperative Enterprise," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 33(4), pages 361-371.
    8. Srinivasan, T N, 1994. "Human Development: A New Paradigm or Reinvention of the Wheel?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 238-243, May.
    9. Sugden, Robert, 1993. "Welfare, Resources, and Capabilities: A Review [Inequality Reexamined]," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1947-1962, December.
    10. Alvey, James E., 2004. "Context And Its Relevance For Adam Smith'S Theological And Teleological Views, The Foundation Of His System Of Thought," Discussion Papers 23715, Massey University, Department of Applied and International Economics.
    11. Sen, Amartya, 1993. "Internal Consistency of Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 495-521, May.
    12. Vivian Walsh, 2003. "Sen after Putnam," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 315-394.
    13. Sen, Amartya, 1999. "Commodities and Capabilities," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195650389, Decembrie.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. A. Maltsev., 2015. "History of Economic Thought, Quo vadis?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 3.
    2. James E. Alvey, 2011. "The foundations of the ethical tradition of economics: Plato'sRepublic," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 38(10), pages 824-846, August.
    3. Diebel, Penelope L., 2008. "Ethics and Agriculture: A Teaching Perspective," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1-8.
    4. James E. Alvey, 2011. "A Short History of Ethics and Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12674.
    5. Mejía Cubillos, Javier, 2012. "Ética y Justicia. Reflexiones a partir de The Idea of Justice de Amartya Sen [Ethics and justice. Reflections on The Idea of ​​Justice by Amartya Sen]," MPRA Paper 37458, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Steven Pressman & Gale Summerfield, 2000. "The Economic Contributions of Amartya Sen," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 89-113.
    2. Sebastian Silva-Leander, 2011. "On the Possibility of Measuring Freedom: A Kantian Perspective," OPHI Working Papers 49, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    3. Susan Harkness, 2004. "Social and Political Indicators of Human Well-being," WIDER Working Paper Series RP2004-33, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Agee, Mark D. & Crocker, Thomas D., 2013. "Operationalizing the capability approach to assessing well-being," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 80-86.
    5. Dalila De Rosa, 2018. "Capability Approach and Multidimensional Well-Being: The Italian Case of BES," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(1), pages 125-155, November.
    6. Alkire, Sabina, 2002. "Dimensions of Human Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 181-205, February.
    7. Gasper, D.R., 2007. "Problem- and policy-analysis for human development," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18743, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    8. Klasen, Stephan & Reimers, Malte, 2017. "Looking at Pro-Poor Growth from an Agricultural Perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 147-168.
    9. Elizabeth Stanton, 2007. "The Human Development Index: A History," Working Papers wp127, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    10. Nicolai Suppa, 2016. "Comparing Monetary and Multidimensional Poverty in Germany," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp103_1.pdf, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    11. 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.
    12. Hamid Hasan, 2019. "Confidence in Subjective Evaluation of Human Well-Being in Sen’s Capabilities Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 1-17, January.
    13. Suri, Tavneet & Boozer, Michael A. & Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances, 2011. "Paths to Success: The Relationship Between Human Development and Economic Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 506-522, April.
    14. Sachie Mizohata & Raynald Jadoul, 2013. "Towards International and Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration for the Measurements of Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(3), pages 683-708, May.
    15. Tyson, Christopher J., 2008. "Cognitive constraints, contraction consistency, and the satisficing criterion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 51-70, January.
    16. Belaynesh Tefera & Marloes L. van Engen & Alice Schippers & Arne H. Eide & Amber Kersten & Jac van der Klink, 2018. "Education, Work, and Motherhood in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Review of Equality Challenges and Opportunities for Women with Disabilities," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 6(1), pages 82-93.
    17. Kangmennaang, Joseph & Elliott, Susan J., 2018. "Towards an integrated framework for understanding the links between inequalities and wellbeing of places in low and middle income countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 213(C), pages 45-53.
    18. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Good and bad growth: The human development reports," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 631-638, May.
    19. Nicolai Suppa, 2012. "Does Capability Deprivation Hurt? – Evidence from German Panel Data," Ruhr Economic Papers 0359, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    20. Alkire, Sabina & Deneuluin, Severine, "undated". "Individual Motivation, Its Nature, Determinants and Consequences for within Group Behaviour," WIDER Working Papers 295512, United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:masddp:23702. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: AgEcon Search (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/samasnz.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.