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Original Article

Ekonomik Yaklasim. 2008; 19(68): 1-15

Can Sen’s Capability Approach Present an Alternative Paradigm to Mainstream Economics?


Since the 1990s, the term ‘human development’ and ‘Sen’s capability approach’ have frequently been used by (neo-) liberal international institution. Actually, Sen proposed his capability approach as an alternative to standard liberal utilitarian approaches that focus on resources, per capita income or Rawlsian social primary goods. While according to some social scientists Sen is on the whole a mainstream economist, his capability approach essentially presents philosophical/cultural background and methodological roots radically different from mainstream economics. The aim of this article is to examine the capability approach of Amartya Sen and mainstream economic theory in terms of their epistemological, methodological and ontological aspects.

Key words: Amartya Sen, Capability Approach, Utilitarianism

Article Language: Turkish English

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