Capabilities and Credit

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In this issue we examine the link between capabilities (or capacities) and credit, with particular attention paid to the capabilities approach of Amartya Sen. Sen is a well-known Indian economist who received the 1998 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his work in welfare economics. In this capacity, as one concerned for how modern economic life is unfolding, he developed his ‘capabilities approach’.

It begins with Sign of Our Time, which provides a synopsis of Sen’s approach, variously derived but timed to match the annual HDCA conference in Athens, 2-5 September. The article focuses on both development and welfare, and capacities and credit before a brief description of the role of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA).

Sen’s approach is then critiqued by two articles that are in fact two parts of a fuller length paper by Cristóbal A. Cuadrado Nahum, written as a working paper for the Lancet – University of Oslo Youth Commission on Global Governance for Health and edited with Christopher Houghton Budd. The first piece considers Sen and self-interest, investigating the perspectives opened up by the concept of commitment.

The second piece aims to contextualise Sen’s work in connection with credit and reconsiders egotism and the invisible hand in the light of research into solidarity and equality. To this end, particular attention is paid to the work of Lawrence Wilde and his investigations into the social interactions found in within the division of labour. The articles ends with the possible links to be found with the three calls of the French Revolution.

The third piece comprises commentary by Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, who recently gave an Amartya Sen lecture at the London School of Economics. The excerpts have been carefully selected (see note at start of article) to show how, its long history of economic and financial ‘structural adjustment’, notwithstanding change may be afoot at the very head of the IMF.

The AE-Exchange Page features three contributors to the single theme of capital and the division of labour. Once again the question of altruism arises, invoking the work of Rudolf Steiner in an attempt seek an answer.

Victor’s Blog this month considers Social Credit and the financing of social innovation. This is not social credit in the sense of Douglas, but meant as a generic term: how to capitalise social projects.

Potential attention is paid to how this can benefit young persons, and in fact provide enabling affects for those whose capacities can be released by the capital approaching them to fund their social projects.

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