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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 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon)

  • 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 show that, contrary to the standard understanding of his work, Sen's idea of justice does not consist in the defense of a capability theory. Under the dominant capability-centered view, Sen's idea of justice is indeed characterized principally by a switch of focus from utility to capability. We demonstrate that this view amounts to the application of formal welfarism to capabilities. We reject this characterization and defend instead a heuristic account of the status of capability in Sen's thought: capability was introduced to make a point against welfarism, but this does not imply that a commitment to a capability theory. The capability-centered view is shown to be inconsistent with Sen's idea of justice, because the latter requires agents to be involved in the definition of their own welfare. Our study of the status of capability in Sen's view of justice enables us to relocate his main contribution and to build the basis for an alternative theory of justice.

Suggested Citation

  • Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2015. "Sen is not a capability theorist," Working Papers halshs-01139118, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-01139118
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01139118
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Antoinette Baujard & Muriel Gilardone, 2016. "Positional views as the cornerstone of Sen’s idea of justice," Post-Print halshs-01366710, HAL.
    4. Muriel Gilardone, 2019. "3 enfants, 1 flûte : le choix des principes de justice chez Amartya Sen," Post-Print halshs-02274935, HAL.
    5. Guilhem Lecouteux & Ivan Mitrouchev, 2021. "The "View from Manywhere": Normative Economics with Context-Dependent Preferences," GREDEG Working Papers 2021-19, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    6. Antoinette BAUJARD & Muriel GILARDONE, 2020. "Reconciling agency and impartiality: positional views as the cornerstone of Sen’s idea of justice," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2020-03-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
    7. 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 1837, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    8. Nicolas Brisset & Benoît Walraevens, 2021. "From capital to property: History and justice in the work of Thomas Piketty [Du capital à la propriété: Histoire et justice dans le travail de Thomas Piketty]," Post-Print hal-03250042, HAL.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Muriel Gilardone, 2018. "3 enfants, 1 flûte : le choix des principes de justice chez Amartya Sen," Working Papers halshs-02274935, HAL.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    public reasoning Key-words Capability; public reasoning Codes JEL A13; welfarism; justice; operationalization; paternalism; agency; Capability;
    All these keywords.

    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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