Two ways of realizing justice and democracy: linking Amartya Sen and Elinor Ostrom

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (2):220-232 (2013)
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In The Idea of Justice (2009), Amartya Sen advocates democracy defined as ‘public reasoning’ and ‘government by discussion’. Sen’s discursive approach facilitates the exercise of political freedom and development of one’s public capacities, and enables victims of injustice to give public voice and discussion to specific injustice. It also responds to the contested nature of ‘universal human rights’ and the need to clarify and defend them via public reasoning. However, Sen’s approach leaves intact the hegemony of a liberal form of democracy that prioritizes political and civil rights over social and economic rights and thus precludes alternative democratic forms, most notably a form of cooperative democracy that politicizes social and economic activities in the pursuit of local and global justice. Sen’s ‘government by discus- sion’ must combine with cooperative democracy and a global ethos emphasizing cooperation (and action) over privatization in order to address our most serious global injustices, including exploitation, inequality and poverty in the Global South, accelerating destruction of the environment and biodiversity, and global warming and climate change.



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James Tully
University of Victoria

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Amílcar Cabral and Amartya Sen.Lawrence Hamilton - 2021 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 68 (167):82-110.
Common-pool resources and democracy.Spencer McKay - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

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