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Individual judgments and social choice in Sen's idea of justice and democracy


  • Muriel Gilardone

    (Normandie Université, UCBN, CREM (UMR CNRS 6211), France)

  • Antoinette Baujard

    (Université de Lyon, UJM, GATE L-SE (UMR CNRS 5824), France)


The aim of this paper is to propose a conceptual reconstruction of Sen’s conception of individual judgments, through a back-and-forth analysis between his democratic theory of justice and social choice theory. Firstly, while this is never explicitly presented in Sen’s work, we highlight the importance of the three following elements in the characterization of judgments: position, objectivity and the sense of otherness. Once combined, these three conditions are necessary in order to characterize positional judgments, which, unlike individual preferences, are relevant for justice issues. Secondly, we identify two forces which, in Sen’s view, drive the evolution of such judgments: a widened informational basis and sentiments. This leads us to conclude that a relevant approach to communication, i.e., one which acknowledges the scope of positional judgments and the forces at the source of their evolution, is a third condition for a fruitful transformation of judgments. This last point constitutes, according to us, a missing element in Sen’s idea of justice.

Suggested Citation

  • Muriel Gilardone & Antoinette Baujard, 2013. "Individual judgments and social choice in Sen's idea of justice and democracy," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2013-03-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:tut:cccrwp:2013-03-ccr

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Prasanta Pattanaik, 2005. "Little and Bergson on Arrow's concept of social welfare," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 25(2), pages 369-379, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Muriel Gilardone, 2009. "Inégalités De Genre Et Approche Par Les Capabilités : Quelle Mise En Dialogue Chez Sen ?," Revue Tiers-Monde, Armand Colin, vol. 0(2), pages 357-371.
    4. Perote-Peña, Juan & Piggins, Ashley, 2015. "A Model Of Deliberative And Aggregative Democracy," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(01), pages 93-121, March.
    5. Antoinette Baujard, 2013. "Value judgments and economics expertise," Working Papers 1314, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    6. Antoinette Baujard, 2009. "A return to Bentham's felicific calculus: From moral welfarism to technical non-welfarism," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 431-453.
    7. Rawls, John, 1974. "Some Reasons for the Maximin Criterion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 141-146, May.
    8. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "Social Choice Theory: A Re-examination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 53-89, January.
    9. 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.
    10. Antoinette Baujard, 2010. "Collective interest versus individual interest in Bentham's felicific calculus. Questioning welfarism and fairness," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 607-634.
    11. Dryzek, John S. & List, Christian, 2003. "Social Choice Theory and Deliberative Democracy: A Reconciliation," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(01), pages 1-28, January.
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    More about this item


    Social choice theory; positional objectivity; democracy; individual judgments; justice;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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