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Moral sentiments, institutions, and civil society: Exploiting family resemblances between Smith and Hegel to resolve some conceptual issues in Sen's recent contributions to the theory of justice

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  • Boldyrev, Ivan A.
  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten

Abstract

In his Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen compares the two basic approaches to evaluate institutions, transcendental institutionalism and realization-focused comparisons. Referring to Smith's Impartial Spectator, he argues in favour of the latter and proposes the principle of Open Impartiality. However, this cannot solve the tension between universalism and contextualization of values that Sen therefore inherits from Smith. Based on recent Hegel scholarship, we argue that some of the difficulties can be resolved, considering the role Smith played in the development of Hegel's thinking. Hegel's concept of recognition plays an essential role in establishing the possibility of impartiality both on the level of consciousness and on the level of institutional intersubjectivity. Hegel's critique of Kants formalist ethics (also considered as transcendental institutionalism by Sen), his analysis of the civil society in the Philosophy of Right, especially his focus on associations and estates, can serve as a model for making Sen's focus on public discourse theoretically more concise and pragmatically feasible. Hegel shows that universalistic attitudes can only emerge in specific institutional contexts.

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  • Boldyrev, Ivan A. & Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2012. "Moral sentiments, institutions, and civil society: Exploiting family resemblances between Smith and Hegel to resolve some conceptual issues in Sen's recent contributions to the theory of justice," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 193, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:193
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    Cited by:

    1. Inklaar, Robert & Koetter, Michael & Noth, Felix, 2012. "Who's afraid of big bad banks? Bank competition, SME, and industry growth," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 197, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    2. Gianni Vaggi & Sara Stefanini, 2014. "On open identity; otherness, distance and self-command; Smith and the view of justice," DEM Working Papers Series 073, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
    3. Boeing, Philipp & Mueller, Elisabeth & Sandner, Philipp, 2012. "What makes Chinese firms productive? Learning from indigenous and foreign sources of knowledge," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 196, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    4. Ivan Boldyrev & Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, 2013. "Hegel’s “Objective Spirit”, extended mind, and the institutional nature of economic action," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 12(2), pages 177-202, November.
    5. Böing, Philipp & Müller, Elisabeth, 2012. "Technological Capabilities of Chinese Enterprises: Who is Going to Compete Abroad?," VfS Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62081, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    Keywords

    Theory of Moral Sentiments; Sen; Hegel; recognition; civil society; associations; public discourse;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Modern Monetary Theory;

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