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Edited by Jan Peil and Irene van Staveren
Chapter 63: Amartya Sen
Sabina Alkire The writings of Amartya Sen (b. 1933) trace and draw attention to many interconnections between ethics and economics. Indeed, they have done much to reshape this intersection. Sen spent much of his childhood in Santineketan, Bengal. He studied economics first at Presidency College Calcutta and subsequently at Trinity College Cambridge, where he was awarded a Prize Fellowship. He has taught at Jadavpur University Calcutta, the Delhi School of Economics, the London School of Economics, the University of Oxford, where he became the Drummond Professor of Political Economy and Fellow of All Souls College, Trinity College Cambridge, where he served as Master from 1998–2003, and Harvard University, where he is the Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy. In 1998 Sen was awarded the Alfred Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions in three areas of welfare economics: social choice, welfare distributions and poverty. As of September 2008, Sen had published 25 books and over 370 articles. In the Royer lectures, later published under the title Ethics and Economics, Sen observes that modern economics began in part as a branch of ethics, as suggested by Adam Smith’s position as professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Sen observes two origins of economics: ethics and engineering. Economics’ ethical fastenings address motivation (how one should live) and social achievement (the human good). Engineering techniques, which now dominate economics, shed light on the interdependence between important variables. Sen argues that a better balance needs to be...
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