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Human Development &
Capability Association

Multi-Disciplinary and People-Centred

Sen’s Broad Consequentialism, Legitimate Freedoms and Biodiversity Loss

Speaker: Andrew Crabtree

Amartya Sen has been unjustly criticized for having an apparently lassiez faire approach to freedoms. For some, he appears to place no limits on the freedoms people may have. Such a criticism fails to take Sen’s work on consequentialism - his so-called broad consequentialism - into consideration. Nor too does it discuss his work on responsibility. Thus, the first part of this paper outlines Sen’s “broad consequentialism”, which takes agency, processes and social relationships of people into consideration, and contrasts it and its benefits, with traditional consequentialism. This section also criticizes Sen’s approach for being unclear in terms of prioritization, especially in relation to rights which is left to a vague discussion of public reasoning (Sen, 2008). Section 2 begins by outlining a legitimate freedom or critical contractualist approach to the limits of freedoms is defended which, drawing on Scanlon (1998) and Forst (2011), emphasises the importance of justification to others. It defends the approach against Sen’s criticisms of Scanlon which, I shall maintain involves a misunderstanding of Scanlon’s work as providing a unique set of principles for all cases (Sen, 2008).

duration: 55 minutes
film date: April 18, 2024
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