The idea of justice

Amartya Sen

Why I looked at this book

I found Sen's book Development as freedom interesting, but I felt that since it covered several different topics and was based on a series of lectures, it didn't go into great depth in the arguments put forward and was sometimes a bit repetitive. It was clear Sen has a much deeper knowledge than shown in that book. Hence I thought I'd take a look at some of his other works. I'd thought about looking into Rawls' work on justice, but I felt his books might be a bit abstract. Hence I chose this book as it looks like the ideas put forward in it might be more applicable to the real world.

First impressions

The available samples are fairly short, but by combining Google and Amazon samples it is possible to read the whole preface. I wouldn't say that the start of the book is particularly designed to grab the reader's attention, so maybe it is aimed at a more academic readership - I'll have to see. Sen's plan seems to be to start with the ideas of Rawls, but to extend them to make them more useful. He discusses why we need a theory of justice rather than trusting our instincts. At the start of the introduction Sen looks at the idea of 'plural grounding' of arguments, that is you put forward Arguments A,B and C in support of proposition X. I can see several problems with this. Firstly If A is challenged, there is a temptation to switch to B, which looks like conceding argument A. Secondly, your opponent can say: you just want to believe X, if A wasn't valid you would still believe it. I'm not sure how important plural grounding is in Sen's arguments, so I guess I'd better get on and read the rest of the book.
Coming soon:
Main Review
Reviews Elsewhere
Why not follow the Twitter feed?
In 1930, John Maynard Keynes wrote Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, predicting an age of leisure in a couple of generations. Why aren't we there yet? That's just one of the questions asked in
The People's Economics