Amartya Sen - Goods and People The...

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Unformatted text preview: Goods and People The "Capabilities" Approach of Amartya Sen Sen's starting assumption: "Development" (i.e., "sustainable development") for people living in squalor and "absolute poverty" is desirable and a proper goal of public policy. Sen's question: Given the starting assumption, what should be measured and targeted as we work for development? 1. goods and services (commodities) 2. utilities (happiness) 3. basic needs 4. capabilities Sen lists four candidates: a. Dividing gross productivity (goods and services) by population count leaves out distribution variables. b. Commodity measures (e.g., food consumed) need not correspond with true values (e.g., nutrition), since human welfare depends on several factors (including, e.g., knowledge of nutrition and health). c. Emphasis on commodities sustains "commodity fetishism" (Marx, 1887). Sen's arguments against candidate #1: a. Happiness (desire fulfillment) represents only one human value (leaving out, e.g., being free to pursue happiness).a....
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