Amartya Sen Quotes

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In all kinds of ways there are different freedoms that effect our lives and you can assess what our lives are like by looking at the various freedoms that we have.

-Amartya Sen


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It is hard to understand how a compassionate world order can include so many people afflicted by acute misery, persistent hunger and deprived and desperate lives, and why millions of innocent children have to die each year from lack of food or medical attention or social care. This issue, of course, is not new, and it has been a subject of some discussion among theologians. The argument that God has reasons to want us to deal with these matters ourselves has had considerable intellectual support. As a nonreligious person, I am not in a position to assess the theological merits of this argument. But I can appreciate the force of the claim that people themselves must have responsibility for the development and change of the world in which they live. One does not have to be either devout or non devout to accept this basic connection. As people who live-in a broad sense-together, we cannot escape the thought that the terrible occurrences that we see around us are quintessentially our problems. They are our responsibility-whether or not they are also anyone else's. As competent human beings, we cannot shirk the task of judging how things are and what needs to be done. As reflective creatures, we have the ability to contemplate the lives of others. Our sense of behavior may have caused (though that can be very important as well), but can also relate more generally to the miseries that we see around us and that lie within our power to help remedy. That responsibility is not, of course, the only consideration that can claim our attention, but to deny the relevance of that general claim would be to miss something central about our social existence. It is not so much a matter of having the exact rules about how precisely we ought to behave, as of recognizing the relevance of our shared humanity in making the choices we face.

Amartya Sen
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