Skip to main content

Development as Freedom

Image result for microcredit vs microfinance

I've written of Amartya Sen in recent days. I think I'll return to that well today, drawing on his 1999 book, Development as Freedom. I will do so without rushing in to agree or disagree with particular points, though I'm afraid I will comment along the way on Sen's prose style.

Freedom has two distinct roles in the life of a developing nation, the constitutive role and the instrumental role. In the words of Amartya Sen, freedom is both a constituent in the good life and an instrument kn economic progress.

Freedom, especially in its instrumental role, includes for Sen "the opportunities that individuals respectively enjoy to utilize economic resources for the purpose of consumption, or production, or exchange."

His prose style here is clunky and academic. The use of "utilize" where the word "use" would work is an example. But I'm picking up what he's laying down.

A little later, "The availability and access to finance can be a crucial influence on the economic entitlements that economic agents are practically able to secure." This means, if you're able to borrow money, you're in a position to do something with it. Or you're not, you aren't. Again, clunky but valid. He specifically links this to micro-credit, very small scale loans below the radar of conventional banking.

Sen includes "transparency guarantees" as among the freedoms with instrumental value for development. This he derives from one's need to trust the people around one's self. When trust is seriously violated, as by corruption in business or politics, the lives of many people can be severely constrained. Transparency, openness, makes  trust more trustworthy, makes its violation riskier, which is a good thing.

Less abstractly, Sen discusses Malthusian theory and population issues. He reports on a sharp fertility decline in Bangladesh linked to "the family planning movement and in particular to the greater availability of knowledge and facilities." That country "has been able to cut its fertility rate  from 6.1 to 3.4 in a mere decade and a half."

Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…