The Idea of Justice, By Amartya Sen

Reviewed,Boyd Tonkin
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:13

This majestic book ranks not only as Amartya Sen's masterpiece, but a compendium of the themes that turned the Bengali Nobel-laureate economist into the finest social philosopher of our age.

For all the breadth of his intellectual reach (from the Buddha to John Rawls) and the range of historical examples – we begin with Burke denouncing the plunder of India, and end with the right of outsiders to judge stoning by the Taliban or judicial murder in the US – Sen always works by the light of very practical reason.

Taking his cue from necessary conflicts about what justice means, sceptical of any abstract formula, he aims at better outcomes for a greater variety of people. Generous and cosmopolitan, this is social theory on an epic but humane scale.

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