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Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is one of the world’s most recognized voices for the downtrodden and the poor. His work and talent have proven to be an inspiration to millions for justice for underprivileged people across the globe. All Amartya Sen books cover a wide range of topics across ethics, political philosophy, economics, and social choice theory.
Keep reading to learn of 5 unique books you should add to your reading list!
Collective Choice & Social Welfare (1970)
- ‘Collective Choice & Social Welfare’ is one of Amartya Sen’s most important books.
- Published in 1970, the classic study continues to be well-known for its groundbreaking role. It plays in integrating ethics and economics.
- This is among the Amartya Sen books that have resulted in influencing several international organizations. Along with United Nations, it is working towards improving human development.
- The book highlights the “impossibility theorems” that are present in the social choice theory, effectively hosting the possibility of democratic and reasoned social choice.
- Some of the key questions answered in this book include-
- How can we measure income inequality?
- Is the majority principle a workable rule for making decisions?
- Can the values which individual members of a society attach to different alternatives sum up to values for society as a whole?
- The latest introduction to this book also provides an up-to-date and far-reaching overview of the subject of social choice.
Poverty & Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981)
- ‘Poverty and Famines’ is one of the most groundbreaking Amartya Sen books appreciated in the field of literature and politics today.
- The primary focus of this book is on the cause of starvation (as a global epidemic) and famines (in particular).
- Amartya Sen gave a critical analysis of traditional methods of assessing famines and concentrates on the food supply for different communities. These analyses express in significant detail in this book.
- Amartya Sen argues that traditional analysis is dangerously misleading for policy-making, empirically inept, and theoretically unsound in the book.
- He presents an alternative method of analysis referred to as the ‘entitlement approach’ that concentrates on the factors of exchange and ownership.
- This is also among the Amartya Sen books that are rich in case studies of famines such as the Ethiopian famines of 1973 and 1974, the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, and the Bangaladesh Famine of 1974.
- The several case studies serve to highlight the technicalities and mathematical reasoning strategies employed by Amartya Sen.
Rationality and Freedom (2002)
- Two of the most contentious and profound concepts in social sciences and philosophy are rationality and freedom.
- Divided into two volumes based on the topics of justice, freedom, and rationality, these are considered among the best Amartya Sen books that bring excellent clarity and insight into societal issues.
- Through this book, Amartya Sen adopts an innovative strategy to depart from the standard criteria of rationality.
- His theories go on to explain the effects of subjecting one’s choices and values to the demands of critical scrutiny and reason.
- Amartya Sen’s approach is utilized to highlight the demands of rationality in social choice and individual choice.
- A thorough environmental assessment and cost-benefit analysis have been conducted in both cases.
- As a philosopher, Amartya Sen goes on to identify reciprocity in the relationship between freedom and rationality.
- The book finally draws the readers’ attention toward freedom as a concept and how it cannot be assessed independently of a person’s valuations and preferences.
Identity & Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (2006)
- In ‘Identity & Violence’, Amartya Sen refutes the ideas perpetuated by Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’. The latter is considered one of the most influential titles in international politics.
- Huntington’s ivory-tower theories are classified as dangerous by Amartya Sen in his book, suggesting that they be roundly rejected.
- Amartya Sen’s books such as these continue to hold at a time of heightened sectarian tensions in the country.
- In the book, Amartya Sen celebrates the inherent complexity of the human identity in significant ways. He observes that an individual’s ‘civilizational identity’ is not the same as one’s destiny.
- He also emphasizes the concept of civilizational partitioning and how it does not capture the competing identities and vast complexities that shape the human experience.
The Idea of Justice (2009)
- Among the Amartya Sen books published more than a decade ago, ‘The Idea of Justice’ discusses concepts such as ‘what a just society looks like’ and ‘identification of injustices’.
- Amartya Sen discusses the different questions that continue to occupy the dominant tradition of political philosophy (led by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes).
- In the book, Amartya Sen argues that the traditional vein of political philosophy reveals very little about how injustices can be identified and reduced in the here and now.
- The book discusses the central problem associated with the dominant philosophical approach of ‘transcendental institutionalism’. The readers get a brand new perspective on the principles of justice.
- Amartya Sen is one of the most influential writers in literature today.
- With several contributions to the field of philosophy and politics, Amartya Sen’s books provide readers with a new perspective on societal norms and the effects on the underprivileged.
- Reading the above five listed books can be an excellent way to understand Amartya Sen’s radical philosophies, concepts, and ideologies.
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Q1. When was Amartya Sen born?
Answer – Amartya Sen was born on 3 November 1933, in Shantiniketan (India).
Q2. Does Amartya Sen have experience as a teacher?
Answer – Yes! A man of many talents, Amartya Sen has taught economics in several universities across India and England (including the Universities of Jadavpur and the London School of Economics).
Q3. What is welfare economics?
Answer – Welfare economics is a branch of economics that deals with the evaluation of policies in terms of their long-term effects on the well-being of society.