Development as Freedom

Development as Freedom

Hardback

By (author) Amartya K. Sen

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 242mm x 26mm | 685g
  • Publication date: 14 October 1999
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198297580
  • ISBN 13: 9780198297581
  • Sales rank: 451,379

Product description

In Development as Freedom Amartya Sen quotes the eighteenth century poet William Cowper on freedom: Freedom has a thousand charms to show, That slaves howe'er contented, never know. Sen explains how in a world of unprecedented increase in overall opulence, millions of people living in rich and poor countries are still unfree. Even if they are not technically slaves, they are denied elementary freedom and remain imprisoned in one way or another by economic poverty, social deprivation, political tyranny or cultural authoritarianism. The main purpose of development is to spread freedom and its 'thousand charms' to the unfree citizens. Freedom, Sen persuasively argues, is at once the ultimate goal of social and economic arrangements and the most efficient means of realizing general welfare. Social institutions like markets, political parties, legislatures, the judiciary, and the media contribute to development by enhancing individual freedom and are in turn sustained by social values. Values, institutions, development, and freedom are all closely interrelated, and Sen links them together in an elegant analytical framework. By asking "What is the relation between our collective economic wealth and our individual ability to live as we would like?" and by incorporating individual freedom as a social commitment into his analysis, Sen allows economics once again, as it did in the time of Adam Smith, to address the social basis of individual well-being and freedom.

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Author information

Amartya Sen is the Master of Trinity College Cambridge and the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Science. He has been President of the Indian Economic Association, the American Economic Association, the International Economic Association and the Econometrics Society. He has taught at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and the London School of Economics.

Review quote

The world's poor and dispossed could have no more articulate or insightful a champion among economists than Amartya Sen. By showing that the quality of our lives should be measured not by our wealth but by our freedom, his writings have revolutionized the theory and practice of development. The United Nations, in its own development work, has benefited immensely from the wisdom and good sense of Professor Sen's views. Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations In this book, Amartya Sen develops elegantly, compactly, and yet broadly the concept that economic development is in its nature an increase in freedom. By historical examples, empirical evidence, and forceful and rigorous analysis, he shows how development, broadly and properly conceived, cannot be antagonistic to liberty but consists precisely in its increase. Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel Laureate in Economic Science Amartya Sen has made several key contributions to research on fundamental problems in welfare economics. By combining tools from economics and philosophy, he has restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems. From the Royal Swedish Academy Announcement of the Award of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Science The connecting theme behind these essays is that development is about expanding people's ability to do things that they have a reason to value. The rationale for this is discussed with great force, clarity and consistency. S.V. Subramanian, Progress in Development Studies 1(1), Jan 01. the ideas are presented in a very accessible, nontechnical language. The writing is lucid with interesting story-telling openings ... a topical and timely appeal to an audience that cuts across disciplines. S.V. Subramanian, Progress in Development Studies 1(1), Jan 01. a brilliant book. Sen ranges over a vast intellectual landscape ... Many authors try this kind of tour d'horizon but few succeed as well as Amartya Sen. He is a multi-faceted scholar who has thought deeply and rigorously and has published extensively. Although Development as Freedom covers imense territory, it is subtle and nuanced and its careful scholarship is manifest at every turn. Lars Osberg, Reviews, Compte Rendus, Autumn 2000. Sen has looked for ways to empower the poor ... Development as Freedom is a testament to Sen's unwavering commitment to the task ... this is economics that should be read: not merely for the elegance of its arguments or the wisdom of its judgements, but for the deep and burnished humanity that animates it. David Goldblatt, The Independent 29/11/99 Development as Freedom is a personal manifesto: a summing up; a blend of vision, close argument, reflection and reminiscence. The Economist 18/9/99

Editorial reviews

Economics meets philosophy in this wide-ranging manifesto that identifies freedom as the agent of universal development as well as its goal. Sen, the 1998 Nobel laureate in economics, points out, among many things, that there has never been famine in functioning democracies, including modern India, Botswana, and Zimbabwe (democratic officeholders, unlike colonial functionaries or dictators, are obliged to respond to impending shortages). High per capita income does not necessarily mean longer life (poor residents of Kerala, India, can expect to live longer than richer American blacks). In much of the world, gender inequality causes distorted male-female ratios (thus, there are "missing women"). Sen analyzes a myriad of such considerations and offers a thoughtful synthesis of welfare economics, political principles, and ethics. He asks fundamental questions, challenges common assumptions, and takes on diverse shibboleths. Lest you think a statement like "low income is clearly one of the major causes of poverty" is foolishly simplistic, hold on as he proceeds to demonstrate that there are other important causes for "capability deprivation," as he characterizes poverty. "Human development . . . is ah ally of the poor," he says. "It is an indication of the topsy-turvy world in which we live that the school-teacher or the nurse feels more threatened by financial conservatism than does the army general." The lucid insights are abundant as Sen marshals scores of thinkers from Aristotle to Rabindranath Tagore, Confucius to Bentham. His text is, as well, a sly review of his contemporaries and a sagacious reappraisal of Adam Smith. Casual readers may find rough going with a lexicon like "complemantarity" or "chosen functioning vector," but the expansive discussion will surely attract contemplative public policy practitioners. This learned book, more diagnostic than prescriptive, convinces us of freedom's value and utility in economic development. Less clear: how to bring freedom about in the world. Sen's book must nevertheless be seen as a seminal and influential text for students and makers of policy. (Kirkus Reviews)