Neorepublicanism and Sen’s economic, legal, and ethical desiderata

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Amartya Sen's overview of developments in the interaction of economics, law and ethics gives us three take-home messages. Economics should not be taken to postulate a self-seeking homo economicus, incapable of commitment to others and even of sympathy with others. Law should not be assessed wholly on the basis of its economic payoffs but on the basis of its broader benefits in the organization of public life. And ethics should not be construed – or pursued – as the search for an ideal model of justice, without any desire to find a yardstick for the comparative appraisal of imperfect systems. These messages identify what we may describe, for short, as economic, legal and ethical desiderata on a political theory. I have some small reservations about how Sen understands the notion of commitment, which I have outlined elsewhere (Pettit 2005). But those reservations apart, I entirely endorse the take-home messages of his chapter. What I propose to do in this brief response is to show how the neorepublican philosophy that has come to prominence in recent political thinking can fully satisfy the desiderata outlined by Sen (Pettit 1997b; Skinner 1998; Maynor 2003; Laborde and Maynor 2007). I apologize for the fact that, since I am one of those aligned with this reworked republicanism, the exercise has a somewhat self-serving aspect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAgainst Injustice
Subtitle of host publicationThe New Economics of Amartya Sen
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780511657443
ISBN (Print)9780521899598
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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