Capitalism – crisis and critique (defunct)

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Reading Amartya Sen (2)

April 2nd, 2010 · No Comments · Sen

I have just recieved a copy of Sen’s The Idea of Justice. Despite the fact that the term ‘capitalism’ does not appear in the subject index, the subject matter is of great relevance to an investigation of capitalism, and particularly a normatively based critique of capitalism. This is evidently what Sen has in mind, to some extent at least. In the introduction he cites the work of Marx (as an example of a ‘realization-focussed comparative’ economist as opposed to the ‘transcendental institutionalists Sen finds so dangerously unhelpful) with approval. Further, in the his previous article he refers to in the first chapter (Sraffa, Wittgenstein and Gramsci) he speaks with approval of the influence Gramsci had on the latter Witgenstein via Sraffa). In the same article he identifies the differing normative relevances of depicting profit as the just reward of capital, as a factor of production, or as surplus value extracted from labour. However, Sen goes on to say that he doesn’t find it necessary to be sceptical about unrestrained capitalism on such technical and theoretical grounds  “rather than on the mean streets and strained lives that capitalism can generate, unless it is restrained and supplemented by other – often non-market – institutions”. p1247 Journal of Economic Literature Vol XLI December 2003). Obvious and remediable injustice on the ground and its causes are what concerns Sen.


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