Everybody feels emotionally positive about the slogan of the French revolution: "Égalité, liberté et fraternite" or "Equality, freedom and brotherhood. Application of the principles is another matter. Marx doctrine was all should perform according to their ability and the results distributed according to the people's needs. The communists put up a façade for providing the same income without a link to performance. That doctrine has lost all credibility. The free market doctrine is reward based on performance. Yet no society is comfortable with poverty and crime. Poverty does not necessarily lead to crime but in practice there is a significant correlation. Amartya Sen presents a masterful analysis of the equality problem. The fundamental problem is that people are diverse and not equal, and therefore the word "equality" in the slogan means nothing unless one can answer: equality of what? He believes that inequality in outcomes when it comes to the deprived is most fruitfully seen as a capability failure. He rightly criticises many welfarists of looking at the outcomes in terms of income differentials. Many welfarists see the solution to the problem by transferring wealth from the rich to the poor. Whilst wealth differentials are important solutions to poverty, according to Sen, can only be found by tackling the problems of capability and functioning. The book contains some criticism of the "Theory of Justice" by Rawls. It is however positive criticism. The book presents useful enhancement to the concept of Rawls. The Rawls "doctrine for example focuses on the means to freedom. It is also necessary to consider the capability to use the freedom. It is not an easy book to read, even though it is written in a very lucid style. For those interested in improving the functioning of society it is worth the effort to thoroughly study it.
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