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Reconciling agency and impartiality: positional views as the cornerstone of Sen’s idea of justice

Antoinette Baujard () and Muriel Gilardone ()

Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS from Condorcet Center for political Economy

Abstract: Our paper offers a novel reading of Sen’s idea of justice, going beyond two standard prisms that we have identified as obscuring the debate: 1) welfarism, i.e.the focus on one definition of individual welfare; and 2)transcendentalism, i.e.resting on external normative criteria. Instead we take seriously Sen’s emphasis on personal agency,and we focus on his original contribution to the issue of positional objectivity.Firstly, we demonstrate that Sen’s idea of justice, with the notion of “positional views” at its core, is more respectful of persons’agency than any theory based on individual preference or capability could be. Secondly, we argue that Sen’s conception of positional views considers that both information and sentiments are relevant. Such an alternative approach to both objectivity and subjectivity in their standard meanings allows the formation of more impartial views through collective deliberation and a better consideration of justice by agents themselves. This paper contributes to better articulating Sen’s constructive proposal regarding justice and clarifying its anti-paternalistic nature.

Keywords: individual preferences; positional objectivity; sentiments; public reasoning; agency; justice; welfarism; transcendentalism; impartiality; anti-paternalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 B31 B41 D63 I31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-his, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-pke
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