Joshua Isaac Fox
University of Chicago
Amartya Sen has suggested that the moral significance of freedom undermines the view that well-being alone possesses fundamental moral worth. Sen’s efforts to establish this claim, however, seem to fall short: he attempts to establish freedom’s independent moral significance by pointing to the value of autonomy, but explains the value of autonomy in terms of its role as an element of well-being. Nonetheless, I take it that Sen is very much on the right track: well-being is not the only fundamental moral value, and an examination of freedom’s moral significance really will bring this out. I thus offer my own version of the freedom-based critique of well-being’s exclusive moral claim, focusing not on autonomy but what Sen has called “well-being freedom.” The value of this variety of freedom derives, I will suggest, not from the value of well-being itself but the value of well-being potential. Well-being freedom matters not only because promoting it is a way of promoting human well-being, but also because respecting it is a way of respecting the dignity of human nature. The freedom-based critique of well-being’s moral uniqueness succeeds even if Sen’s particular version of it does not.
Keywords Amartya Sen  Well-Being  Dignity  Freedom  Welfarism  Potential
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References found in this work BETA

The Idea of Justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Well-Being, Agency and Freedom: The Dewey Lectures 1984.Amartya Sen - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (4):169-221.
Two Pessimisms in Mill.Joshua Fox - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (4):442-457.
Collected Works.John Stuart Mill - 1963 - [Toronto, University of Toronto Press.

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