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The Contributions of Professor Amartya Sen in the Field of Human Rights
Polly Vizard
January 2005
Paper No' CASE 091:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: A12; A13; B31; D63; I39; K39

Tags: amartya sen; human rights; poverty; freedom; obligation; capability approach; meta-rights; entitlements; opportunity freedom; liberty-rights

This paper analyses the work of the Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Amartya Sen from the perspective of human rights. It assesses the ways in which Sen’s research agenda has deepened and expanded human rights discourse in the disciplines of ethics and economics, and examines how his work has promoted cross-fertilisation and integration on this subject across traditional disciplinary divides. The paper suggests that Sen’s development of a ‘scholarly bridge’ between human rights and economics is an important and innovative contribution that has methodological as well as substantive importance and that provides a prototype and stimuli for future research. It also establishes that the idea of fundamental freedoms and human rights is itself an important gateway into understanding the nature, scope and significance of Sen’s research. The paper concludes with a brief assessment of the challenges to be addressed in taking Sen’s contributions in the field of human rights forward.