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Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review : 'On Ethics And Economics' by Amartya Sen (Chapter 2 : Economic Judgements And Moral Philosophy)

I had reviewed the first chapter of the book back in May here .

Since the book is primarily based on the connection and non-connection and the differences of concepts between the same between ethics and economics,the author has time and again tried to mark the position of Welfare Economics in the modern times.Frustratingly,the author is right about positivist economists trying heart and soul to pull a prominent demarcation line between welfare economics and the "other types of economic investigation."
The author further emphasises the fact that even though the subject does have a practical side,that which can be implied (a reason why the subject is a social science) and that it is being pseudo-emphasised on as if welfare economics is an economic equivalent of a black hole : you simply cannot get an implacable solution out of it.
Economist Lionel Robbins,according to the author,narrowed down the concept of welfare economics even further than the utilaterian views already had by stating a certain definition of "good" and "bad" in terms of moral viability or ethical viability by some norm when inter-personally comparing the utility so attained from a particular activity performed by different individuals. 
The development of anti-ethicalism further confined on welfare economics within the boundaries of Pareto Optimality.A social state is said to be Pareto Optimal if no one can be better off by not making someone else worse off.Again,this is concerned about only wealth and subsequent concepts of utility related to wealth.Pareto Optimality is often termed as "economic efficiency" and though this does relate to the void filled by utility and effiiciency,which are related concepts,it pays no attention to the distributional attribute of either efficiency or utility.So,as expected some roll into living in luxury and some are left unfed.The Fundamental theory of welfare economics is concerned with the results of market equilibrium in a perfectly competitive market.Just like Pyotr Kapitza had once said,"To talk of atomic energy in terms of atomic bombs is like talking of electricity in terms of the electric chair"; to reduce Economics to quantitative sciences is doing exactly the same thing as this,perhaps even literally.
Just like classicists,Rawls had considered that external effects would remain absent,which is very unexpected and impractical a concept,almost epistemologically "nonsensical".
The traditional utilaterian views successfully ignore the possibility of the economic equivalence of a fourth or fifth dimension being existent and responsible for welfare,which is,as we know,the ultimate goal of economics of any kind born yet.
Sen has successfully predicted (as per history speaks) that the result of the same will subsequently be a part of some revolutionary's handbook or an incentive towards organising mass protests against social inequality not controlled by any sort of "fundamental theorem" of that kind.

It has been mentioned that,"The Pareto criterion can be seen as capturing a particular aspect of welfarism,to wit : a unanimous ranking of individual utilities must be adequate for overall social ranking of the respective states.",which is again a source of major debate.If individual utility adds up to well being of an entire state,then why not social well-being achieved for the state,the state that consists of people be divided among people the other way down?

Also,welfarism is of the view that utility is the only things of intrinsic value for ethical calculation and evaluation of states of affairs are individual utilities.

In the very next section of the chapter,the author keenly examines the determinants of well-being of an individual and the society,the well-being of which is said to be the sum total of well-being of  the society.
"However,the point at issue is not the plausibility of their independence,but the sustainability and relevance of the distinction." It is further argued if well-being is what determines ultimate well-being,in the real sense and is only about self-oriented in nature.For example,an individual may find happiness and liberty in working for her/his political party or community or neighbourhood or town or city.
Again and again,the author has questioned the viability of utility as a measure of well-being,be that of individuals or that of the society,as a whole.He also introduces us to the revolutionary concept of "negative freedom",which may have implications in favour of conduct in positive defence of such freedom of others,according to the author.Ethics has been viewed as an evolving procedure,which is very psychological and also logical at the same time,often cognitive as well by Sen.It is not a static concept bounded by certain laws or fundamental theorems.Since it is a human being oriented phenomena and that on a large scale,it is rather socially linked,more than anything else.And a social science is always very dynamic.The concept of ethical evaluation is elaborated in the next and the last chapter of the book.

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  1. Je n arrive pas à traduire en français Merci de le faire en français laurent

  2. Je n arrive pas à traduire en français Merci de le faire en français laurent

    1. Bien sûr, je l'envoie par e -mail .


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