THE IDEA OF JUSTICE AMARTYA SEN PDF
The idea of justice / Amartya Sen. p. cm. ISBN (alk. paper). 1. Justice. 2. Social contract. 3. Rawls, John, Theory of justice. 4. The Idea of Justice. 1. AMARTYA SEN. Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and. Philosophy at Harvard University, USA. 1. On Amartya Sen and The Idea of Justice. Review Essay. Chris Brown elations. Department of International R onomics. London School of [email protected]
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PDF | In this book Amartya Sen diverges from the dominant theories of justice associated with Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Rousseau. The distinguished scholar Amartya Sen offers a powerful critique of the theory of social justice that, in its grip on social and political thinking. The articles included in this symposium on my book The Idea of Justice cover a Amartya Sen, Harvard University, Cambridge Street, Littauer Center
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Sen drew extensively upon Rawl's work, mostly composed while the former was a Professor in India. Sen was not a student of Rawls. Rather, Rawls- who was not an economist- drew upon the work of Harsanyi and Sen.
Sen dedicated his book 'An idea of Justice' to the memory of John Rawls. In this book, Sen makes a radical break with the traditional notion of homo economicus, or 'rational economic man' as motivated mainly by self-interest.
He points out that children have strong notions of 'fairness' and acute aversion to 'manifest injustice'. Sen, says in the introduction to his book that Indeed, one way to frame the distinction is in terms of their respective questions.
The dominant approach seeks to answer: What is a just society? Sen's approach answers the question: How might justice be advanced?
One might think that the two questions are closely related. Rawls thought that ideal theory guides political action and therefore helps answer the second question.
Sen thinks that the identification of a perfectly just social arrangement is not only "infeasible" but also "redundant" for issues of nonideal theory. It is infeasible because impartial critical scrutiny generates plausible rivals to any one ideal conception of justice It is redundant because ideal theory is neither necessary nor sufficient for ranking alternative policies that might advance justice Each criticism is closely linked to his defense of a realization-focused approach.
For example, ideal theory's insufficiency rests on the fact that it does not include within it the requisite weights or valuations for ranking alternatives. Yet these weights and valuations are "the basic ingredients of a 'comparative' rather than a 'transcendental' approach to justice" Similarly, even in the absence of ideal theory "we may still be able to agree readily that there is a clear social failure involved in persistent famines or in widespread exclusions from medical access" The approach developed in The Idea of Justice is closely related to Sen's work on social choice theory and welfare economics, which won him the Nobel Prize in Economics in Sen calls this capability.
The approach is pluralist in the sense that it points to an informational focus in judging and comparing overall individual advantages without specifying how information may be used It does not specify any particular primary goods as Rawls does. Its second decisive feature is that it is inescapably concerned with a plurality of different features of our lives and concerns.
Sen writes: The capability that we are concerned with is our ability to achieve various combinations of functionings that we can compare and judge against each other in terms of what we have reason to value.
But how are these different interests to be coordinated?
Sens answer is: through public debate. For Sen the model of debate is essentially given by the comparative model of Smiths impartial spectator, as I have noted.
The impartial spectator permits open and open-ended discussion, hence the opportunity for people to revise their views based on their changing positions and changing information. This, for Smith, is taken as a fairly unproblematic point. It is difficult to do justice to such a synthetic work in a few pages, and perhaps more difficult to launch any substantive criticisms of it.
However, philosophy being what it is, it is perhaps worth dwelling for a few moments at least on what Sens book is and what it is not. As I said at the outset, Sens book is not concerned with the grounding of its theory in any meta-ethical sense, that is, Sen does not seek to give a final justification of his pluralist approach to liberty nor to his claim that the impartial spectator is the best sort of model for deliberation.
He does argue, however, that the impartial spectator can help us become more clear about the ways in which human agency could be more fully realized in terms of both functionings and capability.
The Idea of Justice
He has, however, also argued that Rawls conception of the original position is idealized in a way that makes it unsuitable to tackle real world problems. This too I will not dispute.
Sens book is a work that seeks to form a bridge between philosophy and social policy in the sense that it argues for the methodology of the capability approach largely from a mixture of philosophical and Book Reviews empirical observation but does not try to systematize these in a philosophical foundational way.
For all of Sens criticism of Rawls there is one concept that Sen barely mentions: the concept of the reflective equilibrium. The reflective equilibrium, which in Rawls is meant to ground the whole theory of justice, is the idea that we can abstract from our own perspectives, check these against those of others and adjust our own views accordingly.
The reflective equilibrium, in my view, is remarkably close to Sens own view of public deliberation.
When all is said and done, Sens and Rawls theories bare remarkable similarity to one another when it comes to their philosophical commitments about the role of rationality and human agency. What they share is a rejection of Kants attempt to provide a metaphysical foundation for morality. This means that they have, from a philosophical point of view, more in common than Sen may think.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN: Justice between generations is now a major preoccupation for many human sciences, especially for political and moral philosophy.
This development is partly a result of the complexity of the issue, about which numerous debates offer new and exciting challenges, such as discussions on what we owe to people who do not yet exist. But this phenomenon is mostly due to the social consequences of the question.The problem here consists rather in seeing whether the shift Sen that takes from means to ends, from procedures to outcomes, from epistemic prudence to the acceptance of interpersonal comparisons, still allows one to remain immune to some of the risks that are usually connected with utilitarianism.
However, Sen—and here he separates himself from full and simple utilitarianism—thinks that utilitarianism is not a good guide in this direction due to the fact that utilitarianism limits its informational apparatus to welfare information. Sen, via capabilities, transforms in part politics into a form of applied ethics wherein the good dictates the nature of the right. This assertion has a natural corollary. The approach developed in The Idea of Justice is closely related to Sen's work on social choice theory and welfare economics, which won him the Nobel Prize in Economics in
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