Monday, July 27, 2009

Amartya Sen on "The Idea of Justice"

On Monday July 27, Amartya Sen talks at the London School of Economics (6.30-8pm):

The Idea of Justice

Amartya Sen will explore the ways in which, and the degree to which, justice is a matter of reason, and of different kinds of reason. This event marks the launch of his new book The Idea of Justice (Harvard University Press & Allen Lane

There will be a live webcast of this event available at LSE Live. After the event a podcast and video will be available online. Click here.

Sen's new book was reviewed in The Financial Times on July 25. See also New Statesman, The Guardian, The Independent and The Times.

In his book Amartya Sen criticizes the so-called "transcendental institutionalism" approach to justice. This approach focuses on distinguishing between the just and the unjust and creating institutions that would ensure a perfect just society. It can be found in the classical works by Hobbes, Rousseau and Kant and in the modern writings by Rawls, Dworkin and Nagel. Instead Sen favors an alternative approach - "comparative justice" - which evaluates specific social injustices in a comparative setting and focuses on improving justice by removing these injustices. It is the approach espoused by thinkers as Adam Smith, Condorcet, John Stuart Mill and Marx. In short: We should focus on the severe, remediable injustices in our society, and not on an ideal of justice.

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University and an honorary fellow of LSE. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998.

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