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

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

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…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

https://sites.google.com/site/francescoorsi1/

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/article/view/3

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …