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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya SenVolume I: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.001.0001

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Sen's Identities

Sen's Identities

Chapter:
(p.475) Chapter 25 Sen's Identities
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen
Author(s):

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.003.0026

This chapter analyses the concept of identity developed by Amartya Sen in recent work, especially in the book Identity and Violence. It discusses the relationship between identity and solidarity, arguing that, the former is necessary but by no means sufficient for the latter, so that, contra what Sen sometimes suggests, identities are not simply forms of solidarity. It then argues that Sen's account is both morally and methodologically individualist which seems right and that it is also correct in seeing identities as, in a certain sense, normative. But it then shows that his account is also rationalist, in treating identity as grounding reasons for thinking and acting, and that this leaves out the important role of non-rational factors in the social and political mobilization of identity. This means that some of Sen's policy proposals, while helpful, will not deal with some serious cases where identity leads to political violence.

Keywords:   identity, moral individualism, methodological individualism, Muslims, rationality, solidarity

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