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Sen is not a capability theorist

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  • Antoinette Baujard

    () (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Muriel Gilardone

    () (CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - UNIV-RENNES - Université de Rennes - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2017. "Sen is not a capability theorist," Post-Print halshs-01885065, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-01885065
    DOI: 10.1080/1350178X.2016.1257821
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01885065
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
    3. Muriel Gilardone, 2015. "Rawls's influence and counter-influence on Sen: Post-welfarism and impartiality," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(2), pages 198-235, April.
    4. Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 2005. "Multi-profile welfarism: A generalization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 24(2), pages 253-267, April.
    5. Amartya Sen, 2004. "Capabilities, Lists, And Public Reason: Continuing The Conversation," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 77-80.
    6. Alkire, Sabina, 2005. "Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283316.
    7. Amartya Sen, 2005. "Human Rights and Capabilities," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 151-166.
    8. Amartya Sen, 2012. "Values and justice," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 101-108, June.
    9. Carter, Ian, 2014. "Is The Capability Approach Paternalist?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 75-98, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Mozaffar Qizilbash, 2002. "Development, Common Foes and Shared Values," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 463-480.
    12. Muriel Gilardone, 2010. "Amartya Sen sans prisme," Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy, L'Harmattan, issue 58, pages 9-39.
    13. 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.
    14. Jérôme Ballet & Damien Bazin & Jean-Luc Dubois & François-Régis Mahieu, 2013. "Freedom, Responsibility and Economics of the Person," Post-Print halshs-00930924, HAL.
    15. Fleurbaey, Marc & Blanchet, Didier, 2013. "Beyond GDP: Measuring Welfare and Assessing Sustainability," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199767199.
    16. Ingrid Robeyns, 2003. "Sen'S Capability Approach And Gender Inequality: Selecting Relevant Capabilities," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 61-92.
    17. Sen, Amartya, 1984. "The Living Standard," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(0), pages 74-90, Supplemen.
    18. John B. Davis, 2012. "The idea of public reasoning," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 169-172, June.
    19. repec:ems:euriss:23177 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Martha Nussbaum, 2003. "Capabilities As Fundamental Entitlements: Sen And Social Justice," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 33-59.
    21. Amartya Sen, 1999. "The Possibility of Social Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 349-378, June.
    22. Yukinori Iwata, 2014. "On the informational basis of social choice with the evaluation of opportunity sets," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 43(1), pages 153-172, June.
    23. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-1572, October.
    24. Steven Pressman & Gale Summerfield, 2002. "Sen and Capabilities," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 429-434.
    25. Antoinette Baujard, 2011. "Utilité et liberté de choix dans les classements d'ensembles d'opportunités," Post-Print halshs-00667694, HAL.
    26. 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.
    27. Fabienne Peter, 2003. "Gender And The Foundations Of Social Choice: The Role Of Situated Agency," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 13-32.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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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. Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2016. "Positional views as the cornerstone of Sen’s idea of justice," Post-Print halshs-01366695, HAL.
    4. 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.
    5. Muriel Gilardone, 2019. "3 enfants, 1 flûte : le choix des principes de justice chez Amartya Sen," Post-Print halshs-02274935, HAL.
    6. 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.
    7. Muriel Gilardone, 2018. "3 enfants, 1 flûte : le choix des principes de justice chez Amartya Sen," Working Papers halshs-02274935, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    operationalization; justice; agency; paternalism; welfarism; capability theory; public reasoning; Capability;

    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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