Spongia: Philosophy Blog EUR

Amartya Sen on the Quality of Life

Posted on: 2010/10/01

In May this year, I did an interview with Amartya Sen in Cambridge (the British one) on the Quality of Life. The concrete occasion for this interview was a workshop/conference was involved in, organized by the Humanities Division of the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO-Geesteswetenschappen), on the Quality of Life.

Sen couldn’t come to give a talk at this conference, but was happy being interviewed by me. So if you fancy watching 22 minutes of Sen’s views on how to conceptualise and measure the quality of life, on the Sarkozy report on the measurement of economic progress, and, at the end, on global poverty and whether the rich people really care about the global poor, you can watch it here. There is a longer version (about an hour and 6 minutes) which also includes more ‘technical’ questions (like how to weigh different dimensions of well-being), that can be borrowed from me or from the EIPE Library (located in room H5-14, Tom Wells’s office).
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2 Reacties to "Amartya Sen on the Quality of Life"

I have just seen your interesting and instructive interview with Amartya Sen on quality of life. I enjoyed it. After your PhD under Sen’s supervision it must have been again an honour for you to have the opportunity to interview this renowned and very sympathetic scholar and Nobel Prize winner. Sen’s emphasis on the importance of public reasoning in order to increase our commitment to the problems of poverty in the world is very convincing. As you suggest, and Sen confirms, we do not establish the right priorities. Public discussion may help to change our priorities. I think, philosophers and especially (practical) ethicists have a task to organize public discussion and to promote our engagement by public reasoning. I am interested in the longer version of the interview. Do you have a written text of the whole interview?

Dear Martijn, I’m happy to lend you (or anyone else) the longer version of the interview (which I think may interest you in particular, since I asked him about how to weigh different capabilities, which is just a specific instance of the problem how to weigh different values, a problem on which you have worked).

There is no written text of the whole interview, and while Amartya Sen is happy to have the interview online, he said he always objects to oral/taped interviews to be transcribed and publish, since it’s a very different kind of dialogue/communication (and I can see what he means, I also find the dynamics in a conversation very different from an interview that sticks to paper.

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