Poverty as failed exercise of rights? Some theoretical problems

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A state of deprivation can be epitomised as a situation that implies not only a lack of resources but even a failed exercise of individual rights. Sometimes, if we consider poor exclusively those who have not enough money we may miss part of the picture or we may pursue inefficient and/or unjust policies. Let us think of handicapped persons that have a certain income; this sum may be enough for healthy people, but it is not the case for those who are not self-sufficient. Thus, we may have people poor and people not poor with the same amount of resources. Poverty, then, must be considered not as a lack of resources but as the difficulty of enjoying relevant opportunities (e.g. reading, writing, having a high life expectancy, having shelter, access to health services, etc.) that are, or must be, provided by society or government to everyone. A state of deprivation is a failed exercise of individual rights, rights that are necessary as an index of the development of a certain community. In this paper, I will raise some doubts to this account of poverty and especially to Amartya Sen’s theory that has developed in full this link between rights and deprivation. In order to achieve that, I will introduce the problem of the analysis of the term “poverty” by shedding light on certain drawbacks of mainstream economics. This helps to understand the reasons of Sen’s alternative approach to the analysis of poverty. I will argue, however, that his approach, although useful, raises doubts about its implementation that the author does not clarify.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteLaw Politics and Morality: European Perspectives III. Ethics and Social Justice
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2007


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