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Amartya Sen

Author of Development as Freedom

85+ Works 5,962 Members 83 Reviews 5 Favorited

About the Author

Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. His many books include Rationality and Freedom (Harvard).


Works by Amartya Sen

Development as Freedom (1999) 1,564 copies
The Idea of Justice (2009) 752 copies
Inequality Reexamined (1992) 219 copies
On Ethics and Economics (1991) 215 copies
Rationality and Freedom (2002) 105 copies
The Quality of Life (1993) — Editor — 94 copies
Utilitarianism and Beyond (1982) — Editor — 81 copies
Home in the World: A Memoir (2021) 71 copies
Hunger and Public Action (1989) — Editor — 40 copies
La démocratie des autres (2004) 32 copies
The Country of First Boys (2015) 21 copies
Reason Before Identity (1999) 12 copies
Globalizzazione e libertà (2002) 11 copies
Choice of Techniques (1968) 8 copies
Peace and Democratic Society (2011) — Editor — 8 copies
El valor de la democracia (2006) 5 copies
A Wish a Day for a Week (2014) 5 copies
Laicismo indiano (1999) 2 copies
Civil Paths to Peace (2007) 2 copies

Associated Works

Granta 52: Food : The Vital Stuff (1995) — Contributor — 146 copies
The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith (2006) — Contributor — 93 copies
AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India (2008) — Foreword, some editions — 59 copies
The Community Development Reader (2007) — Contributor, some editions — 30 copies
The Nine Lives of Population Control (1995) — Contributor — 25 copies
Nobelity (2006) — Actor, some editions — 4 copies
Arvo 1 copy


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Common Knowledge



This is just a few lectures and papers published elsewhere compiled together, but both Sen and Maskin are good writers, so it provides a very useful introduction to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. I can't imagine why anyone would want such a thing, except for fairly academic reasons. In order to read the proof, it would be helpful to be at least somewhat familiar with how preferences work, so best for students in the second half of their undergraduate degree. Alternatively, if taking the proof as given, it would of use to any student who has completed first year micro. The technical details of the proof are not particularly illuminating - none of the intermediate steps really mean much, so you can skip it.… (more)
robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
You will be impressed if you look at India's GDP growth rate. But GDP and its growth rate are simplistic measures to understand how a country is faring. India's middle-class is large enough to keep the wheels of the economy chugging along.
Yet, unless everyone participates in economic and social growth, the engine will sputter and die.
In this book, Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen have done an admirable job in analysing India's 'uncertain glory' as they call it.
Our under-investment in public hygiene, public health and education is appalling and alarming.

The authors have managed to walk the tightrope with admirable felicity. They point out the good and the bad. And they do so in a balanced manner, with the proper use of data.

What are their recommendations? I miss this. Barring this omission, the book is excellent. What is sad, is that the book remains relevant even now, years after it was published.
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RajivC | 3 other reviews | May 15, 2023 |
“Everyone values equality, although often in competing ways. Everyone says that they make /something/ equal, and everyone maintains that what they make equal is of the highest importance, but in a world of highly diverse individuals and situations, people disagree about /what sort of equality is best/.” (paraphrase)

I guess you could say Amartya is libertarian-friendly, without being quite that way himself, as he’s an academic and even a philosopher, who sees his role as more holding a mirror to the world, than politicking. It does come off as sounding libertarian-y, because it declines to assume the common meaning of “equality”, which usually makes people think of some sort of socialism or ‘regular old’ (if you’ll permit me to say so) leftism, since I guess the academy is often a reaction to the world, and ‘the real world’ in the USA (and many many other places) is defs not socialism, you know, or socialism’s equality. Incidentally, before whenever life changed, the academy was to a surprising-for-us -moderns degree, about Greece from 800-400 BC, or whenever, so I guess the academy was always some sort of reaction, in this case against the world of post 400BC or whenever. At its most equitable, in the passive sense, it’s true, the academy doesn’t react (or act), but holds up a mirror to the world. Amartya is like that. You couldn’t use this book in an election campaign, or to start a business or agency, but sometimes it is actually useful to un-learn things, which can sometimes, indirectly, make action easier.

…. Amartya just holds up the mirror; he doesn’t care if you’re a libertarian or a Marxist, except to take little notes. Sometimes conservatives say this is what they want, when they see the academy saying or doing things they don’t like…. But really, just holding up the mirror satisfies very few people, conservatives included. I mean, obviously many conservatives are Indian-fighters, not boudoir manufacturers, right. And one needn’t blame them. Didn’t Carlos say that famous thing that, pace the philosophers, the point is to change the world, not just to paint it? And religion, too, and even psychology, have made this same criticism of the philosopher’s philosopher, for as long as he and they have existed. (I don’t mean the boudoir thing to be a provocation. Certainly we can add feminists to the mix, and they can certainly take an interest in how the world of appearances constrains women.)

…. It is still nice to read. You never know when an idea will come in handy, and it’s satisfying to know. (Ironically he is talking here among other things about letting your light shine, and not just not-going-crazy.)

…. And despite letting the libertarians have a go at it in the beginning, and referencing to philosophers throughout, Amartya also refers to the role of background in becoming poor, and also (which is easier to forget) the /differential experience of poverty of people of different backgrounds/.

And it’s nice, especially that he so liberated that understanding from the charge that it becomes verbally violent, you know, because he isn’t. He’s good.

…. Anyway, since I can’t read only practical books even in this new practical phase for me, (because I wouldn’t like it), I’m determined to read at least as many of the general/majoritarian books as the diversities ones, although not much more, but I don’t want to get sucked down into irremediable pain, you know; but in general history/sociology I want to read at least as much sociology (or politics) as history, since that literal record of past centuries stuff, the macho men with the battles that we’re all trained to think of as good/educated…. I mean, it’s work, if that’s what you do, the soldier’s life, the politician’s life, the historian’s life…. But I mean, it’s so out there…. People psych themselves into a conflict and an empire that’s over; even now I couldn’t rationally talk Northern Ireland with my Irish father, and he’s American, and conservative, and it’s the 2020s, you know…. Diversities is a harder thing to get over, although that can make it all the harder to adjust well to, and even if it were to be 40-45% of the diversities/gen soc&hist total, that would be a lot more than in the unspoken assumption that history means white boys’ history, you know…. It doesn’t have to mean that, of course, but what does it mean? Not all of life is practical in the narrow sense, but learning the laws of society and money and interactions and such, is useful, a sort of pessimist’s school to go with an optimist’s trade—some people think finding fault is the only reason, you know, and we give the children to them for twenty years, but it has some use as a corrective to the more useful studies….

But I mean, history for history’s sake—learning about the old battles, the old empires, just because they happened, just because they were there? It’s a strand in my childhood, so it’s hard to give it up completely, but devoid of an aim in sociological understanding—understanding some kind of social law, some law or situation, it’s like…. Why, you know…. It all comes back to that pre-WWI British aristocrat model of education, you know: “because I don’t have to work, and because I’m better than you”. History for history’s sake is a lot like that. Sociology can be elitist too, but I think it’s less /inherently/ elitist, perhaps.

…. Incidentally, there are several different liberalisms out there, but I’m guessing it’s fair to say that utilitarianism is a sort of liberalism, just like libertarians are *sorta* conservative, you know. I’m sure that’s a simplification, but a few simplifications can make something more user-friendly to the outsider and if people were nice wouldn’t make the people already invited to the party, violent or whatever. I kinda started the book with something close to a blank about utilitarianism, you know. I know John Mill was one, and I read his book about the oppression of chicks a couple of years ago, but the whole point of that book was that he wasn’t just trying to convert the philosophy club, or I guess it would have been the Liberal Party, yeah. Yeah, so they’re a sort of liberal. The kind that doesn’t like Dickens, lol—my other utilitarian factoid coming in, John’s scorn for Charles’s sentimentalism.

But okay! You people do what you want! 🥸
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goosecap | 2 other reviews | Apr 9, 2023 |
An amazingly well thought-out treatment of economic development, its goals, its impact on people, and how those people (i.e. the human capital) feeds back into economic development. Sen is careful and thoughtful--and undogmatic--in establishing a framework by which we can enhance the freedom of individuals as well as grow economies.
qaphsiel | 12 other reviews | Feb 20, 2023 |



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