Gamble Lecture: Economist Amartya Sen
October 20, 2016
UMass Amherst Campus
Amartya Sen has been appointed professor of economics in India and at Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard. His Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 recognized “his contributions to welfare economics."
Sen has reshaped views about the economic fundamentals: what are human goals; and how do individuals and communities achieve them? Sen’s concept of capabilities places the ultimate question of human freedom at the very core of economic development. No economist in more than a century has had a greater impact on how we define and measure human welfare, with enormous transformative impact on how development is imagined and achieved. Sen’s work, especially his radical reconception of the political economy of famine, has had particular relevance for society’s poorest members during periods of extreme deprivation.
Sen’s 2016 Gamble Lecture, “What's the Use of Human Rights?” asks whether human rights can close the gap between the concept of capabilities and their operationalization through policy and collective action. Are human rights enough for social justice?
As Sen says, "Jeremy Bentham dismissed the 'rights of man' - championed by French revolutionaries - as 'nonsense on stilts.' Many political philosophers continue to be skeptical of the foundations of human rights. Yet human rights are often invoked in practical advocacy - and may even have relevance in the on-going U.S. presidential contest (enlivened by the rhetoric of Mr. Trump, with deportations and exclusions). Can the idea of human rights be used with legitimacy and reach?"
The Campus Center is located in the middle of campus at 1 Campus Center Way. Parking is available in the Campus Center Garage.