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Identity and Commitment: Sen's Conception of the Individual

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  • John B. Davis

    () (Faculty of Economics and Econometrics, Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Abstract

This paper develops a conception of personal identity for Amartya Sen's capability framework that emphasizes his self-scrutinizing aspect of the self and related concept of commitment, and compares this conception to the co1lective intentionality-based one advanced in Davis (2003c). The paper also distinguishes personal identity and social identity, and contrasts Sen's framework with recent standard economics' explanation of social identity in terms of conformity. Sen's concept of commitment is examined in two formulations, and the later version is related to Bernard Wi1liams' thinking about identity-conferring commitments. The paper concludes by arguing that explaining personal identity as a special capability and possible object of social-economic policy provides one way of resolving the debate over whether the capability framework ought to have a short-list of essential capabilities.

Suggested Citation

  • John B. Davis, 2004. "Identity and Commitment: Sen's Conception of the Individual," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-055/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20040055
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kavka, Gregory S., 1991. "Is Individual Choice Less Problematic than Collective Choice?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 143-165, October.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    3. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
    4. Roland BĂ©nabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
    5. Sen, Amartya, 1985. "Goals, Commitment, and Identity," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 341-355, Fall.
    6. Martha Nussbaum, 2003. "Capabilities As Fundamental Entitlements: Sen And Social Justice," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 33-59.
    7. Schelling, Thomas C, 1978. "Egonomics, or the Art of Self-Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 290-294, May.
    8. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sen; personal identity; social identity; commitment; reflexivity; theory of conformity; collective intentionality; Bernard Williams; capabilities; Nussbaum;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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