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Amartya Sen on Egalitarianism - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 417
Egalitarianism/Sen/Weinstein: Sen's egalitarian liberalism testifies to liberalism's conceptual flexibility by combining an 'inclusive' form of consequentialism with basic 'capability equality'. For Sen, morality is 'consequence-based' though it is not more narrowly consequentialist.
Consequentialism: Consequentialism is narrower because it is arbitrarily evaluator-neutral.'Consequence-based evaluation' , by contrast, includes non-utility information such as agent relativity.
Deontology: In Sen's words, 'deontological values can, in fact, be accommodated within consequence-based evaluation through evaluatorrelative outcome moralities' (1982(1): 38).* Practical reasoning/Sen: More recently, Sen refers to his version of practical reasoning as 'deontic-value inclusive consequential reasoning' (2001(2) : 64). Such reasoning forbids prioritizing either the right or the good. Rather, these concepts are linked, thus requiring that we consider them simultaneously: 'While considerations of freedoms, rights and duties are not the only ones that matter (for example, well-being does too), they are nevertheless part of the contentions that we have reason to take into account in deciding on what would be best ... to do' (2001(2): 61). >Consequentialism/Sen, >Equality/Sen.

* For Sen (1979)(3), welfarism is a narrower form of consequentialism while utilitarianism is a narrower form of welfarism. Whereas consequentialism evaluates actions according to the goodness of the state of affairs they produce, welfarism judges the goodness of a state of affairs by the goodness of its utilities. Utilitarianism judges the goodness of a state's utilities by their sum total.


1. Sen, Amartya (1982) 'Rights and agency'. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 11: 3-39.
2. Sen, Amartya (2001) 'Reply'. Economics and Philosophy, 17: 51-65.
3. Sen, Amartya (1979) 'Utilitarianism and welfarism'. The Journal of Philosophy, LXXVI: 463-89.

Weinstein, David 2004. „English Political Theory in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconSen I
Amartya Sen
Collective Choice and Social Welfare: Expanded Edition London 2017

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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