Chapter

Freedom, Agency and Well‐Being

Amartya Sen

in Inequality Reexamined

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780198289289
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596896 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198289286.003.0005
 Freedom, Agency and Well‐Being

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The concentration on the freedom to achieve and not just on the level of achievement raises some deep questions about the connection between the appraisal of the alternative achievements and the value of the freedom to achieve them, which are addressed in this chapter. Even the freedom‐based perspective must pay particular attention to the nature and value of the actual achievements, and inequalities in achievement can throw light on inequalities in the respective freedoms enjoyed. This recognition requires rejection of rules of freedom assessment such as the counting of the number of alternatives in the ’range of choice’, but more constructively, it suggests practical ways of using observable data regarding achievements to get a partial but significant view of the freedoms enjoyed by different persons. In this context, the difference between well‐being objectives and the other objectives that a person may have are discussed. This difference not only leads to some plurality within the idea of freedom itself but also has important implications for the divergence between the perspective of achievements and that of freedoms.

Keywords: achievement; alternatives; choice; equality; freedom; inequality; plurality; well‐being

Chapter.  7927 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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