Gary Becker and others have done important work to broaden the content of self interest, but have not departed from seeing rationality in terms of the exclusive pursuit of self-interest. One reason why committed behavior is important is that a person can have good reason to pursue objectives other than self interest maximization (no matter how broadly it is construed). Indeed, one can also follow rules of behavior that go beyond the pursuit of one's own goals, even if the goals (...) include non-self-interested concerns. By living in a society, one develops possible reasons for considering other people's goals as well, which takes one beyond an exclusive concentration on one's own goals, not to mention the single-minded pursuit of one's own self interest. The recognition of other people's goals may be a part of rational thought. If rational behavior may depart from the relentless pursuit of one's own goals, commitment has to be important in a theory of rationality. Furthermore, seeing the role of commitment in human behavior can have explanatory importance in allowing us to understand behavior patterns that are hard to fit into the narrow format of contemporary rational choice theory. Commitment is, thus, important both for practical reason and for causal explanation. Footnotes1 Paper presented at a Workshop on Rationality and Commitment at the University of St. Gallen, May 13–15, 2004. (shrink)
A dichotomous decision-making context in committees is considered where potential partisan members with predetermined votes can generate inefficient decisions and buy neutral votes. The optimal voting rule minimizing the expected costs of inefficient decisions for the case of a three-member committee is analyzed. It is shown that the optimal voting rule can be non-monotonic with respect to side-transfers: in the symmetric case, majority voting is optimal under either zero, mild or full side-transfer possibilities, whereas unanimity voting may be optimal under (...) an intermediate side-transfer possibility. The side-transfer possibilities depend on the power of partisans (their ability or willingness to pay for neutral votes) relative to the corruptibility of neutral members (personal cost of deliberately casting a `wrong' vote). (shrink)
Amartya Sen argues that Rawls’s theory is not only unnecessary in the pursuit of justice, but it may even be an impediment to justice in so far as it has discouraged more useful work. Against what he considers the dominance of transcendental theory, Sen calls for a more realistic and practical ‘comparative’ theory of justice. Sen’s negative point has been widely discussed, but here I develop a reconstruction of Sen’s positive theory (a combination of Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator, Social (...) Choice Theory, and the Capabilities Approach) in order to evaluate it on its own terms. I find that the theory is technocratic, despite Sen’s insistence to the contrary. (shrink)
This paper examines evolving technological capabilities in developing countries. Counts of web sites indicate that some progress is being made in some of the world’s poorest countries, but the numbers show even with this progress, the gap between developed and developing countries is actually growing. So has there been progress in closing the global digital divide? The significance of web sites to provide access to necessary medical information, local cultural information, and the general visibility of the developing world is described (...) and the current environment evaluated. The moral situation created by the current status is reviewed using ethical theories proposed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. By reviewing one vehicle for information transfer—the web site—the author hopes to highlight the importance of this vehicle and to present a general overview of the progress that is being made around the world. (shrink)
This article presents an analysis of the concept of disability in Amartya Sen’s capabilities and functionings approach in the context of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Following a critical review of the concept of disability—from its traditional interpretation as an essentially medical concept to its later interpretation as a socially constructed category—we will introduce the concept of functional diversity. The importance of human diversity in the capabilities and functionings approach calls for incorporating this concept into the analysis of well-being (...) and quality of life in persons with disability—aspects in which ICT currently plays a major role. When one contemplates these technologies, it becomes clear that factors such as accessibility, design for all, and user participation in development and implementation processes are key strategies in promoting equal rights and equal opportunity for persons with disability in the different environments of the information society. (shrink)
Milton Friedman and Amartya Sen have a lot in common. Both are Nobel Prize-winning economists who venture beyond the more technical questions of positive economics to demonstrate the relevance of their expertise to philosophy and public policy. Their social and political philosophy, including normative theorizing from their work and the work of other economists, comprises arguably the most influential part of their corpus. Like most Americans, both Friedman and Sen are liberals, in the sense that they argue that social (...) arrangements should be assessed according to their tendency to further the liberty of individuals. In addition, both demonstrate the deep link between political and economic institutions, and articulate the ways in which an individual’s freedom (or lack thereof) in one sphere impacts her freedom in other spheres. -/- Despite these and other similarities, there is an immense partisan divide between the followers of their work in American politics (in particular). Friedman’s work is championed by so-called neo-liberals – a group that has come to dominate the political and economic right in the United States - providing the philosophical foundation for demands for limited government and free markets. Both critics and plaudits regard Friedman as the “intellectual architect” of the free-market policies of the Republican Party, from Ronald Reagan forward. Sen’s work, on the other hand, is frequently utilized to defend so-called progressive policies in the U.S. and abroad. Such policies, many argue, further the effective or substantive freedom of individuals (an idea associated with early socialist thought). This essay begins an overdue systematic analysis of their social and political philosophy, focusing on the central driving concept for both theorists: the idea of freedom. With this study in hand, I recommend a pragmatic, pluralist understanding of freedom in the United States and elsewhere. (shrink)
Si l’apport d’Amartya Sen à la critique de la rationalité économique est reconnu, la relation entre sa contribution formelle et le raisonnement informel qu’elle sous-tend est parfois mal comprise. Dans cet article, nous proposons une analyse de la propre interprétation que donne Sen de ses travaux formels sur l’incomplétude des préférences. Cette réflexion sur les propriétés mathématiques de la relation de préférence en théorie du choix social met en évidence la volonté de Sen d’enrichir la représentation formelle des activités (...) humaines d’évaluation, de classement et de choix. En un sens, cela peut être compris comme une simple amélioration de cette représentation ; mais l’interprétation de l’incomplétude comme « incomplétude affirmée » montre que Sen vise également à enrichir la structure du cadre conceptuel welfariste afin de détacher ce dernier de l’interprétation utilitariste qui lui est généralement associée. (shrink)
Uma das questões mais interessantes do debate contemporâneo sobre a justiça, no âmbito da teoria política normativa, diz respeito sobre qual foco deveria ocupar a posição central de uma visão igualitarista: igualdade baseada em satisfação de necessidades básicas, bens primários como propõe Rawls, igualdade de recursos como defende Dworkin ou, como quer Amartya Sen, igualdade de capacidades? Com o que, afinal, os igualitaristas deveriam se preocupar? Este trabalho tem o objetivo de analisar criticamente essas três perspectivas.
Over the last 30 years the Indian philosopher-economist Amartya Sen has developed an original normative approach to the evaluation of individual and social well-being. The foundational concern of this ‘capability approach’ is the real freedom of individuals to achieve the kind of lives they have reason to value. This freedom is analysed in terms of an individual’s ‘capability’ to achieve combinations of such intrinsically valuable ‘beings and doings’ (‘functionings’) as being sufficiently nourished and freely expressing one’s political views. In (...) this account, ‘development’ is conceived as the expansion of individuals’ capability, and thus as a concept that goes beyond the economic growth of third world countries. My thesis is a philosophical examination of Sen’s capability approach. In the first part (chapters 1-3) I present and defend my interpretation of Sen’s work. (shrink)
Reconstruction théorique magistrale de nos intuitions communes à propos de la justice sociale, la Théorie de la Justice de John Rawls se devait de prendre en compte les plus défavorisés : c’est chose faite avec le principe de différence qui répartit les biens à l’avantage de ces derniers. Mais qui sont-ils exactement ? Comment les définir objectivement ? Pour Rawls, l’objectivité morale est garantie par l’expérience de pensée de la position originelle, caractérisée par le voile d’ignorance qui masque les intérêts (...) particuliers. Mais cet outil méthodologique du jugement désintéressé en philosophie politique ne constitue-t-il pas un obstacle à la caractérisation de la variété empirique des situations de pauvreté ? Ces questions, c’est un économiste, et un économiste lui-même originaire d’un pays « pauvre » qui les soulève : Amartya Sen, prix Nobel d’Économie en 1998 pour ses travaux sur le développement humain, la pauvreté et l’économie du bien-être, a critiqué de manière virulente l’indice des biens premiers dont la privation constitue le critère de définition des plus défavorisés dans la théorie rawlsienne. En effet, l’homogénéité des besoins des individus engagés dans la position originelle exclut la prise en compte de la diversité réelle des êtres humains. Les différences de capacités mises en évidence par les indicateurs économiques élaborés avec la participation d’A. Sen n’apparaissent pas derrière le voile d’ignorance or, une théorie de la justice peut-elle se passer d’une analyse des obstacles réels posés aux libertés positives des individus, tels que l’état de santé, le niveau d’éducation et les discriminations dues au genre, à la couleur de peau ou à la classe sociale ? Ce livre explicite les enjeux de cette discussion et les apports de l’approche par les capacités (capability approach) à la réflexion contemporaine sur les inégalités économiques et sociales. (shrink)
El artículo presenta un análisis de cuatro temas centrales de Sen: su visión sobre el ser humano, la libertad individual, la evaluación moral y los derechos, y la igualdad. Con esto quiero mostrar que estas ideas no sólo son consistentes, sino que explican muchas de las reflexiones sobre temas sociales y económicos que lo han convertido en un referente en estas áreas. En las conclusiones presentaré una síntesis e interpretación de estas ideas fundamentales, mostrando cómo constituyen un núcleo filosófico y (...) qué relaciones mantienen entre ellas. Mi objetivo no es encasillarlo en algunas de las corrientes de filosofía actuales, sino destacar la solidez y pertinencia de su aporte filosófico, algo sumamente útil en un tiempo como el nuestro, deseoso de ideas frescas para los acuciantes problemas de siempre. (shrink)
The Idea of Justice" summarizes and extends many of the themes Amartya Sen has been engaged with for the last quarter century: economic versus political rights, cultural relativism and the origin of notions such as human rights, and entitlements and their relation to gender equality.
In a recent discussion of Amartya Sen's concept of the capabilities of people for functioning in their society – and the idea of targeting people's functioning capabilities in evaluating the society – G. A. Cohen accuses Sen of espousing an inappropriate, ‘athletic’ image of the person (Cohen, 1993, pp. 24–5). The idea is that if Sen's formulations are to be taken at face value, then life is valuable only so far as people actively choose most facets of their existence: (...) if they fare well in the material stakes, for example, they must fare well as a result of active choice and effort, not because anyone else looks after them. ‘That’, says Cohen, ‘overestimates the place of freedom and activity in well-being’ (p. 25). (shrink)
Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1998 'for his contributions in welfare economics'. Although his primary academic appointments have been mostly in economics, Sen is also an important and influential social theorist and philosopher. His work on social choice theory is seminal, and his writings on poverty, famine, and development, as well his contributions to moral and political philosophy, are important and influential. Sen's views about the nature and primacy of liberty also make him (...) a major contemporary liberal thinker. This volume of essays on aspects of Sen's work is aimed at a broad audience of readers interested in social theory, political philosophy, ethics, public policy, welfare economics, the theory of rational choice, poverty, and development. Written by a team of well-known experts, each chapter provides an overview of Sen's work in a particular area and a critical assessment of his contributions to the field. (shrink)
A fruitful way to approach The Idea of Phenomenology is through Husserl’s claim that consciousness is not a bag, box, or any other kind of container. The bag conception, which dominated much of modern philosophy, is rooted in the idea that philosophy is restricted to investigating only what is really immanent to consciousness, such as acts and sensory contents. On this view, what Husserl called the riddle of transcendence can never be solved. The phenomenological reduction, as Husserl develops it in (...) The Idea of Phenomenology, opened up a new and broader sense of immanence that embraces the transcendent, making it possible both to solve the riddle and to escape the bag conception once and for all. The essay will discuss ways in which this new conception of immanence is tied to the key Husserlian themes of appearance, phenomenon, essence, seeing or intuiting, and constitution. (shrink)
A central question for assessing the merits of Amartya Sen's capability approach as a potential answer to the “distribution of what”? question concerns the exact role and nature of freedom in that approach. Sen holds that a person's capability identifies that person's effective freedom to achieve valuable states of beings and doings, or functionings, and that freedom so understood, rather than achieved functionings themselves, is the primary evaluative space. Sen's emphasis on freedom has been criticised by G. A. Cohen, (...) according to whom the capability approach either uses too expansive a definition of freedom or rests on an implausibly active, indeed “athletic,” view of well-being. This paper defends the capability approach from this criticism. It argues that we can view the capability approach to be underpinned by an account of well-being which takes the endorsement of valuable functionings as constitutive of well-being, and by a particular view of the way in which endorsement relates to force and choice. Footnotes1 I would like to thank Paul Bou-Habib, Ian Carter, Matthew Kramer, Ingrid Robeyns, Peter Vallentyne, and two Economics and Philosophy referees for very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. I am also grateful to the participants of the Edinburgh ECPR Workshop, the Hoover Chair Seminar in Louvain-La-Neuve, the King's College Moral Philosophy Group in Cambridge, the Nuffield Political Theory Workshop in Oxford, and the session on the Capability Approach at the Philadelphia APSA Annual Conference. (shrink)
Virtue ethics interprets human action as pursuing good ends through practices that develop qualities internal to those final goals. The philosophical approach has been identified as critical of economics, leading in turn to the innovative response that by viewing the market as mutually beneficial exchange, economic practice is in fact defendable on virtue ethics grounds. This defends economics using arguments drawn from virtue ethics, but there is a need also to explore space for virtue ethics within economic theory. Examining key (...) contributions of Kenneth J. Arrow, Amartya Sen and Elinor Ostrom, the article notes that virtue ethics’ appreciation of persons’ communicability of ends is increasingly being relied upon within economics, though sometimes under different names. Its strength to interdisciplinary work between economics and philosophy lies in presenting a methodology able to capture how human beings are capable of, though not fixated on, cooperation. (shrink)
I feel deeply honored and privileged to have the opportunity of giving the first Baffi Lecture at the Bank of Italy. Paolo Baffi was not only a distinguished banker and financial expert, he was also a remarkable economist and a visionary social thinker. He had outstanding technical expertise in many different fields, but combined his intellectual eminence with a profound sense of values. As Governor Ciampi put it at the general meeting of the Bank of Italy last May, Paolo Baffi (...) represented “an extraordinary combination of penetrating logic, erudition and moral strength … [he was] not only a gifted student of economics, he had a deep-seated commitment to act for the common good.” 1 In remembering Baffi today, we must keep in mind both his intellectual contributions and his general evaluative concerns. (shrink)
It is a particular pleasure to be able to participate in this symposium in honor of Amartya Sen. We agree on a wide range of topics, but I will focus here on an area of relative disagreement. Sen is much more attracted to consequentialism than I am, and the main topic of my paper will be the particular version of consequentialism that he has articulated and the reasons why he is drawn to this view.
In this article I present a critique of the moral permissibility of preventive war. Preventive intervention is a murky issue in the just-war thinking, so just-war doctrine does not provide moral clarity in this debate. By invoking the concept of a just peace, I discuss prevention from a non-interventionist perspective and show how it can be an effective measure for national security and humanitarian policies. I draw on Amartya Sen’s idea of justice to reconstruct a justice-based, non-interventionist platform where, (...) instead of enabling the act of warfare, as is the case if we start from a just-war approach, we are encouraged to devise an option that would make the case for preventive war redundant. I claim that it is high time that we shift our discourse from finding security in resorting to a just war to building security via a just peace. (shrink)
In the current debate on economic rationality, Amartya Sen's analysis of the structure of commitment plays a uniquely important role . However, Sen is not alone in pitting committed action against the standard model of rational behavior. Before turning to Sen's analysis in section 2 of this paper, I shall start with an observation concerning some of the other relevant accounts.
Poverty continues to present an enormous challenge to the well-being of humanity. Different frameworks on poverty tend to identify different persons as poor, impacting on efforts to fight poverty. The church as a role player in the public domain needs a framework that can assist it in its task of working for salvation and liberation in the face of overwhelming poverty. Acombined framework, from Amartya Sen’s entitlement approach and capability approach, is amalgamated and suggested as an integrated framework that (...) could act as a lens or a viewpoint from which the church could venture to conceptualise, quantify and respond to instances of poverty. Keywords: Poverty; Church; Well-being; Amartya Sen; Entitlement Approach; Capability Approach. (shrink)
In The Idea of Justice (2009), Amartya Sen advocates democracy defined as ‘public reasoning’ and ‘government by discussion’. Sen’s discursive approach facilitates the exercise of political freedom and development of one’s public capacities, and enables victims of injustice to give public voice and discussion to specific injustice. It also responds to the contested nature of ‘universal human rights’ and the need to clarify and defend them via public reasoning. However, Sen’s approach leaves intact the hegemony of a liberal form (...) of democracy that prioritizes political and civil rights over social and economic rights and thus precludes alternative democratic forms, most notably a form of cooperative democracy that politicizes social and economic activities in the pursuit of local and global justice. Sen’s ‘government by discus- sion’ must combine with cooperative democracy and a global ethos emphasizing cooperation (and action) over privatization in order to address our most serious global injustices, including exploitation, inequality and poverty in the Global South, accelerating destruction of the environment and biodiversity, and global warming and climate change. (shrink)
This article uses Karl Marx’s notions of alienation and antagonism to understand human connection, defined as the interrelationship between human beings that helps transcend self-interest and fosters the sense of solidarity. The Marxian notions are revisited using the works of Amartya Sen, particularly those on identity and violence. Sen’s critique of rationality is discussed, invoking his notions of sympathy, antipathy, and commitment. The article uses two texts, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Manik Bandyopadhyay’s Ekannoborti, as vantage points to understand the (...) key concepts of Marx and Sen. It then discusses the backgrounds of the authors and the political interpretations of their work and shows how the overriding importance ascribed to a particular identity may convolute the literary motivation of an author. (shrink)
Amartya Sen's recent works on identity have emerged at the same time as a much wider and growing literature on the topic across the disciplines of politics, philosophy, and economics. This article outlines some of Sen's claims and attempts a partial elucidation of their relationship to some strands in the relevant literatures on identity, community, and justice. It thereby frames Sen's works in such a way as to facilitate comparisons with other views on identity and multiculturalism, community, justice, and (...) recognition which feature in this volume and the relevant literatures. Framing Sen's work in this way also helps to clarify Sen's position in relation to those of Bhikhu Parekh and certain communitarian thinkers. (shrink)
Although the concept of equal opportunity has received scant attention from theological ethics, it attracts widespread approval in the U.S. popular culture and has been examined extensively by contemporary moral philosophy. Amartya Sen's conception of capabilities as "freedom" or "real opportunity" corrects deficiencies in both popular and philosophical conceptions of equal opportunity that ignore interpersonal variations in mental, physical, and psychological abilities beyond agents' control. Recent theologically informed conceptions of love and common grace affirm and revise Sen's conception of (...) equal capability as equal opportunity. The resulting understanding of equal opportunity is quite different from some uses of this concept and could be an important criterion for a just society. (shrink)
In diesen Artikel wird Amartya Sen als Theoretiker der Freiheit dargestellt, dessen Ansatz dem Kommunitarismus gegenüber stärker aufgeschlossen ist als andere liberale Theorien. Das gilt zumindest für einen Kommunitarismus, der Freiheitsrechten einen zentralen Stellenwert einräumt. Sen selbst hat sich allerdings nicht stark mit dem Kommunitarismus auseinandergesetzt und diesen nur vereinzelt in seiner antiliberalen Variante kritisiert. Demgegenüber zeigt dieser Text, dass das Freiheitsverständnis von Sen einen Gemeinschafts- und Wertebezug beinhaltet, der sich mit den Anliegen vieler Kommunitarier deckt.
En The Idea of Justice de Amartya Sen se presenta una propuesta para comprender y defender la justicia global, alejada de las teorías de la justicia que se apoyan en el contrato social y en nociones institucionales trascendentales. El libro puede considerarse como un intento sistemático de defender la pertinencia de la tradición de la elección social para una noción robusta de justicia que no requiera una visión monolítica ni una única formulación institucional. Nos propone atender a las injusticias (...) patentes, aunque no tengamos una teoría de la justicia e incluso aunque no compartamos elementos centrales para esa teoría de la justicia. Es un auténtico desafío a la posición estándar en filosofía moral. (shrink)
This essay critically examines economist and philosopher Amartya Sen's writings as a potential resource in religious ethicists' efforts to analyze discrimination against girls and women and to address their well-being and agency. Delineating how Sen's discussions of "missing women" and "gender and cooperative conflict" fit within his "capability approach" to economic and human development, the article explores how Sen's methodology employs empirical analysis toward normative ends. Those ends expand the capability of girls and women to function in all aspects (...) of their society. It concludes with a discussion of ways to engage Sen's work within religious ethics. (shrink)
In explaining the reasons for sustained existence of tolerance in Indian philosophical mind and continuation of tolerant practices in socio-political life, Amartya Sen argues that tolerance is inherently a social enterprise, which may appear as contingent, but for all intents and purposes is persistent. Basing his thesis that is opposed to Cartesian dualism, which makes a distinction between mind and body, Sen submits that Indian system of universalizing perception finds a subtle form of connection between mind and body. He (...) expands the ancient core worldview, Vasundhara kutumbakam as a secular tolerant civil code,1which makes a connection between the transcendental and the pragmatic planes of consciousness, and reconstructs a thesis about tolerance around human consciousness, which is collectivized and anchored in an acknowledged public space in society that is joined together psychologically as well as philosophically. Tolerance as consciousness can be regarded a necessary condition for playing the role of intentionality as stipulated by classical philosophy. Aware of this ancient wisdom that accepts relativism as an impasse over some evaluative matter, Sen avoids the pitfalls of cultural relativism in tolerance by offering an argument that is based on the metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta and other religious and secular literature, and epitomizes an internationalizing virtue in tolerant traditions. I would examine some interconnected issues, such as the ethical “perimeter” of Sen’s philosophical observation of totalized value system and Indian tolerant attitudes in real life, etc., raising the broader question about the location of cultural identity in relation to supranational state organization. My chief argument is that Sen has been able to observe a connection between the Advaita Vedantic moral philosophy that informs that viewed from the Brahmanic perspective of absolute knowledge in unity, the apparent subject of duality is not the ultimate subject. My conclusion is that valuing of tolerance, individual liberty as well as civil rights is a particular contribution of Western thinking and philosophy; the Western advocates of these rights often provide ammunition to the non-Western critics of tolerance and human rights. (shrink)
El divorcio entre ética y economía tiene lamentables consecuencias en nuestra sociedad contemporánea. El Nobel de Economía Amartya Sen constata el hecho y analiza las raíces del problema en la propia estructura y práctica de la disciplina económica. El presente artículo sintetiza las ideas que al respecto ha elaborado Sen por tres décadas. Se exponen los argumentos de este autor donde se entrelazan el razonamiento económico, el filosófico y el histórico crítico, ofreciendo una síntesis de esta contribución de Sen (...) a una discusión más amplia, de la que depende parcialmente la construcción de formas de convivencia más justas y equitativas. (shrink)
Dussel based this essay on the work of the Nobel prize of Economy Amartya Sen. The author try to expound the relations between moral and ethic in its material, formal and critic aspect. Here the critical ethic and the critical economy goes together judging like perverse the market syst..
O presente trabalho tem como objetivo avaliar em que medida a releitura que Amartya Sen faz acerca da obra de Adam Smith permitiria vislumbra a economia internacional como promotora do desenvolvimento humano. Para tal, inicialmente, apresentaremos a releitura seniana da obra de Smith, focando em suas preocupações éticas, para em seguida, apresentar o modelo de justiça de Amartya Sen que visa à promoção do desenvolvimento humano através das liberdades. Para isso, utilizaremos como fio condutor dessa pesquisa as obras (...) On ethics and economics de Amartya Sen e An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of the Nation de Adam Smith. Palavras-chave: Desenvolvimento humano. Economia. Liberdades. Mercado. (shrink)
The present paper discusses the views of Noble Laureate Amartya Sen with reerence o his book Resourses, Values and Development and in relation to his existential emphasis on moral foundation of policy-making. Sen deviates from traditional welfare econamics. He feels that utilitarianism is sensitive to total benefit of different persons; while maximin or leximin principle cares for the worst-off.
The paper examines Amartya Sen’s seminal work Development and Freedom (1999) in relation to his underlying conception of justice and particularly in relation to the tension that arises in the correlation between basic freedom and basic goods. The idea is to address the question as to which of the two elements (basic goods or basic freedoms) takes precedence to the enactment of global justice. The paper advances a particular distinction between a foundational approach and a functional approach when addressing (...) the question of the priority and primacy of any of the two elements and sheds light on a contentious answer, namely, that basic goods are foundationally primary in relation to basic freedoms and that such a primacy does not rule out the functional priority of basic freedoms. (shrink)
In section I, I identify several mini-theses embedded in Amartya Sen’s theory of human rights – such theses as that human rights are moral, not legal, rights, that nevertheless they are not rights that are awaiting transformation into legal rights, that an expansive doctrine of human rights can incorporate a broad swath of rights without merely mimicking the catalogues in post-Second World War declarations and covenants, and that not all the obligations generated by human rights are ‘perfect’ obligations. In (...) section II, I argue that, both because ‘freedom’ has many interpretations and because not all human freedoms, even when they are life-enhancing, are to be protected as human rights, the distinctive features of Sen’s version of a freedom-emphasizing doctrine would be clearer if the preferred interpretation of ‘freedom’ and the particular human freedoms to be protected were more explicitly identified. While Sen’s doctrine of human rights is a freedom-emphasizing doctrine, its distinctive features – vis-à-vis competing freedom-focused accounts – would be more clearly etched if it were made clearer what the sense is in which it stresses protection of important human freedoms, especially since he concedes that not all freedoms, even when they are life-enhancing for human beings, should be protected as human rights. (shrink)