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Ending the liberal hegemony: Republican freedom and Amartya Sen's theory of capabilities

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While being generally appreciative of Sen's theory of capabilities, the point of this paper is to raise some conceptual challenges that arise in addressing entrenched conditions of power and domination from the capability paradigm. The enhancement of people's capability prospects with regard to education, employment, decent living standards and political participation can empower them to challenge various dominating conditions in society. It can also bestow a sense of self-confidence in people to stand up against discriminating practices. Yet, the objectives of the capability theory remain less secure as long as citizens’ capability prospects are dependent on and subjected to arbitrary power and domination. I argue that Sen's theory of capabilities can be strengthened and developed as an effective antidote to the liberal hegemony in political theory by drawing on resources from Pettit's republicanism particularly by accommodating the robustness condition of freedom and by envisioning individual freedom as intimately tied to the common good of the polity.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/cpt.2009.13

Affiliations: Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Loyola College (University of Madras), Chennai, 600 034, India., Email: john.alexander@liba.edu

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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