‘Growth’, Economic and Human: Reconstructing Economics through Pragmatism and the Capabilities Approach

Contemporary Pragmatism 16 (2-3):286-306 (2019)
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Economist Amartya Sen’s and philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach to economic development enjoys global attention, and there has been considerable interest in connections between it and pragmatism. 1 This paper argues, first, that there are indeed strong, productive affinities between Sen’s and Nussbaum’s understanding of ‘capabilities’ in rethinking how economies are to be developed and measured, on the one hand, and John Dewey’s notion of ‘growth’ and applications of pragmatism to economics, by economists such as Thorstein Veblen, John Commons, and, more recently, Daniel Bromley, to rethink and to reconstruct their discipline, on the other. Second, the paper suggests that Dewey’s notion of ‘growth’ can do much to strengthen and to deepen Sen’s and Nussbaum’s “capabilities approaches” to economics. Third, it suggests that Dewey enriches notions of ‘science’ and ‘democracy’, which are largely underdeveloped in capabilities approaches.



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Ken Stikkers
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

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