- Publisher: Oxford Univirstey Press (March 26, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195655265
- ISBN-13: 978-0195655261
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,971,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Development as Freedom Paperback – March 26, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Sen has a solution. Extending his previous works 'On Ethics and Economics' (1989) and 'Choice, Welfare, and Measurement' (1997), he offers a model of human freedom and free choice as sole measure of value. He restates 'political' and 'ethical' problems as economic ones and measures the negative impact of denying human freedom to choose. For instance, reliance on expensive systems of distribution and mediation, instead of (anarchic) peer relations.
Like Smith and Marx, Sen revisits the assumptions of economic life: why do we work? Why would we put ourselves in positions to endanger ourselves and waste our precious and irreplaceable time on Earth? From his first example, a poor man who was knifed to death for simple lack of freedom to avoid visiting 'a hostile area in troubled times', Sen reminds us that money is worth nothing without time and something to buy that we want more than the time we spent to get it. Escaping the ethical relativism which traps most economists (although, strangely, retaining the moral relativism of human existence and avoiding the 'natural capital' view that there are absolute and transhuman values that humans can ignore, e.g. integrity of DNA/RNA life) he focuses clearly on 'human capital' and how it is liberated through the mechanisms of 'freedom'. Transcends mere structural models such as those of Thurow and Mundell, proposes causal relationships more like those of Herman Wold, Karl Marx and Adam Smith.Read more ›
Sen suggests that there are a number of reasons for not abdicating completely to the market although acknowledging its importance as the most efficient way of determining the overall use of resources. Sen is an economist who has been concerned with Developing countries for many years. One of his specialities is the phenomena of famines, why they occur and how to prevent them.
This book is really a collection of essays that have a common theme. Sen argues strongly that the provision of certain services in developing nations not just as a means of achieving equity but of achieving development.
The first issue that he canvasses is the importance of democracy. He says that no democratic country has ever had a famine. Even in a country as poor as India it has been possible for governments to prevent famines. To explain the way famines are prevented Sen explains in some detail how they are caused. In 1943 British India suffered a famine in which 3 million people starved to death in Bengal. Oddly enough this was not brought about by a fall in the availability of food but rather by a fall in wages for some groups which led them to not being able to buy food. Sen explains that very modest employment programs have been used by successive Indian governments to prevent this happening again.Read more ›
Of course, there exists an abundant literature by less orthodox economists in which these questions are discussed at length. Unfortunately, much of this literature is rather unbalanced.
Recently I discovered "Development as Freedom" by Amartya Sen. Finally I found a book that offers a balanced philosophical reflexion on the premises of classical economics and its relevance for the development problem.
Mr. Sen asks questions rarely asked by economist. What purpose does the acquisition of wealth serve? Mr. Sen argues that dire poverty makes people unfree. Wealth is a means to freedom. From that perspective he draws very interesting conclusions concerning development policy.
Classical economics can be a useful tool in understanding society. Samuelson's book is an excellent introduction into this discipline. But in order to put the classical paradigm in perspective, you should also read "Development as Freedom" by Mr. Sen. It is a deep and compassionate book by a wise man.
As the author candidly points out, famine doesn't occur in countries where citizens have consistent income streams because even if rains fail, food can be imported and purchased. But as usual, in our case, the weather, rather than lack of leadership in economically empowering Kenyans(for instance through food-for-work programmes) was blamed for the famine. Condorcet, a French mathematician, is quoted in the book as saying ..."If they have a duty towards those who are not yet born, that duty is not to give them existence, but to give them happiness."
I would recommend the book to the next occupant of State House and his (or her) administration, because the current administration is too busy figuring out how to contain Raila Odinga rather than efficiently running the country.
PS. I'm aware that "Development as Freedom" is more than just about famine, but I'm too 'hungry' to outline the rest of his ideas,I beg your pardon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amartya Sen crafted a wonderfully accessible book that explains his arch theory of development as freedom with ease. This book benefits both the casual reader and serious academic. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Tony
you should have the full table of contents in the amazon preview. the list of illustrations is fine but not addequate to grasp the scope of the book.Published 23 days ago by leny bob
The book was dented deep into several pages from the front cover. But still readable.Published 1 month ago by Taweesak Klinkong
I liked some of the ideas and he has a wealth of knowledge. Some of the statistics are very interesting and they imply that we should look at new ways to fix old issues. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Phantom1344