Ethics Of Amartya Sen

Ethics of Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen presents an alternative to what he considers to be the dominant approach to justice in his book The Idea of Justice. Sen's dominant approach, which he dubs "transcendental institutionalism," has two distinguishing characteristics. 
1.    First, by identifying "social characteristics that cannot be transcended in terms of justice," it defends certain principles of justice as an ideal conception of justice. 
2.    Second, it focuses on society's fundamental institutions rather than "the actual societies that would ultimately emerge" from those institutions. John Rawls' 'A Theory of Justice' is a classic example of this approach.
Ethics of Amartya Sen
Sen's approach, on the other hand, starts with social realisations (what actually happens or could potentially emerge) rather than institutional structures, and focuses on evaluative comparisons across different social realisations rather than a single set of political principles. 
•    He refers to this approach to justice as "realization-focused comparison," and says it focuses on the "advancement or retreat of justice" rather than a perfect social order. Indeed, one way to think about the distinction is in terms of the questions they're asking. The most common approach aims to answer the question, "What is a just society?" Sen's strategy responds to the question, "How can justice be advanced?"
•    One might believe that the two issues are intertwined. Ideal theory, according to Rawls, guides political action and thus helps to answer the second question. For non-ideal theory, Sen believes that identifying a perfectly just social arrangement is not only "impossible," but also "redundant." 
•    It's impossible because any ideal conception of justice generates plausible rivals when subjected to impartial critical scrutiny. It's pointless because ideal theory isn't required or sufficient for ranking alternative policies that might promote justice.
•    Sen proposes that social justice can be advanced by focusing on people's well-being, which should be assessed based on their 'ability to achieve valuable functions.' This method is known as the 'capability approach,' and it is made up of two concepts: The number of 'doings' and 'beings' that a person achieves in life is referred to as 'functionings.' Sen discusses both fundamental functions such as nutrition, life expectancy, health, and education, as well as more complex ones such as self-respect, social recognition, and political participation.
•    Capabilities are the degrees of freedom that a person has in order to perform various functions. Because both a fasting monk and a starving poor child do not eat, they fare equally well in terms of achieved functioning. However, they are unequal in terms of capabilities because the monk has the freedom to choose his state while the child does not. As a result, the capability approach is a freedom-centred approach.
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•    The capability approach is distinct from utilitarianism and liberalism, both of which were inspired by American philosopher John Rawls.
•    One of utilitarianism's main goals is to maximise utility's overall value in society, which is defined in terms of pleasure, happiness, or desire fulfilment. Although such thinking does not constitute a distinct political ideology today, it has a significant impact on public policy decisions: 'greatest happiness of the greatest (and possibly the most socially and politically powerful!) number.' 
•    Many countries around the world appear to use this crude utilitarian calculus when embarking on development projects such as building massive dams, establishing industries, and even launching large-scale deforestation. 
•    His first of two justice principles demands that civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom from torture and arbitrary detention, be given absolute priority. In his second principle, Rawls attempts to strike a balance between efficiency and justice: while society's offices and positions should be open to all in an open competition, special attention must be paid to the needs of the poorest members of society in order to keep social inequality within manageable proportions.
Ethics of Amartya Sen
•    Rawls is a great moral and political philosopher, according to Sen, especially for advocating a no utilitarian political philosophy. Sen, on the other hand, believes Rawls' theory is limited in terms of human capabilities: it does not go deep enough to account for human diversity and some glaring inequalities in society. 
•    Humans differ from each other in a variety of ways. There are differences in personal characteristics such as health, age, sex, and genetic endowments, to begin with. Human beings also differ in terms of the external environment and social conditions in which they live. These various aspects of human diversity have a significant impact on how resources such as income and wealth are converted into useful capabilities.
•    A physically disabled person, for example, may require more resources to be mobile than someone who is able-bodied. Increasing the social and political participation of traditionally oppressed groups, on the other hand, may necessitate more than just providing resources; it may also necessitate addressing some deeply entrenched social, economic, and political practises and structures. 
•    Inequalities and disadvantages arising from human diversity are either postponed to be resolved by legislative or judicial procedures, or at the very least relegated to the domain of charity, as Sen points out, because Rawls' theory is based on the assumption of a liberal society with citizens having more or less equal capacities.

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