In 1999, Amartya Sen, an Indian economist who a year earlier had won the Nobel Prize for Economics, published "Development as Freedom." Sen mapped out two arguments for a general audience. First, he defined economic development as the expansion of individual freedom, challenging "narrower" views that reduced development to GNP growth or a rise in personal incomes. Sen's ideas spurred the creation of the U.N. Human Development Index, which created a composite measure of development that included income, health and education. Second, Sen maintained that democratic political arrangements, defined as the existence of civil and political freedoms, were necessary to achieve these broadly defined development goals. In his view, open public debates and discussions enabled societies to identify and respond to acute economic needs. As evidence, Sen invoked the history of famines, arguing that "no substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent country with a democratic government and a relatively free press."
Scholars from multiple disciplines -- economics, moral philosophy and political science -- reviewed the book and praised its wide-ranging insights and moral imagination. But only one writer, the philosopher Avishai Margalit, who reviewed the book for the New Republic, identified one of its most important contributions: Sen's defense of democracy as not only intrinsically valuable, but also instrumentally useful for development. For Margalit, Sen's consequentalist argument was "admirably firm" and one of his "most forceful claims." ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $11.99 monthly or $94.99/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- In South Sudan, U.N. Peacekeepers’ Biggest Challenge: Staying Neutral
- EU Trade Deal Limits EAC’s Options for Future Trade Policy
- Morocco Deepens Anti-IS Gulf Ties, but Neglects Returning Jihadi Threat
- Strategic Horizons: Burkina Faso Coup Puts Spotlight on U.S.-Trained Military Leaders
- Zuma’s Scandals Threaten ANC, South Africa With ‘Lost Decade’