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Other titles in the Tanner Lectures in Human Values series:
The Standard of Livingby Amartya K. Sen
Synopses & Reviews
Amartya Sen argues that "the standard of living" has been poorly understood and narrowly defined; it is not just a function of opulence, and cannot be seen as utility. It is, he suggests, the "capabilities" offered in states of affairs. In his comments, Bernard Williams considers the conceptual connections among Sen's capabilities, economic welfare, and the broader notion of "well-being", and asks whether the notion raises questions of justice. Ravi Kanbur considers the implications of the uncertainty in the choice that might be thought to be one desirable capability. John Muellbauer offers a specification of choice, and discusses the importance, for assessing capabilities, of the relation between preferences and constraints and between preferences themselves. Keith Hart explores the issue for those societies in which economic life is not fully "commoditized" and in which, therefore, it does not always make sense to reduce things to a price. Sen concludes with replies to these comments.
Amartya Sen reconsiders the idea of 'the standard of living'. He rejects the more conventional economic interpretations in terms of 'unity' and of wealth or 'opulence', and suggests an interpretation in terms of the 'capabilities and freedoms' that states of affairs do or do not allow. His argument is conceptual, but it refers to a wide range of examples.
Table of Contents
Introduction Geoffrey Hawthorne; 1. The standard of living: lecture I, concepts and critiques Amartya Sen; 2. The standard of living: lecture II, lives and capabilities Amartya Sen; 3. Professor Sen on the standard of living John Muellbauer; 4. The standard of living: uncertainty, inequality and opportunity Ravi Kanbur; 5. Commoditisation and the standard of living Keith Hart; 6. The standard of living: interests and capabilities Bernard Williams; 7. Reply Amartya Sen; Bibliography; Index.
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