Dictionary of Arguments

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Brocker I 883
Markets/Sen: Sen is concerned with the consideration of subjective assessments of quality differences. As indicators of subjective valuations, markets clearly work better the more citizens participate in social price formation through payments. However, it is rarely guaranteed that all citizens have enough economic means to participate at all in the communication of prices; for this to happen, politics must specifically influence the Pareto-efficient equilibria achievable in markets (cf. Dasgupta 1989)(1). On its own, the market cannot create the conditions for its optimal functioning (cf. Beckert 2002)(2).
Furthermore, markets are only suitable as discovery methods for scarcity and benefit estimates in relation to commensurable goods. If here the part is taken for the whole and the market as well as the Pareto efficiency to be promoted by it (cf. Mishan 1972)(3) is chosen as the judge of all things - even those that are not or hardly marketable - the information performance of the market turns into its direct opposite. Misallocations occur, because, according to Sen, a Pareto-efficient result could be completely unfair and terrible(4).
Sen Thesis: the free market does not exist. What exists are merely the most diverse forms of a socially regulated exchange of goods arising from an interplay of interests and values. Markets and the options they offer are creations of the values incorporated into their order and environment.
Solution/Sen: Markets must be designed in such a way that they do not undermine their social, cultural, moral and ecological preconditions. >Freedom/Sen.


1. Martha S. Dasgupta, »Power and Control in the Good Polity«, in: Alan P. Hamlin/Philip Pettit (Hg.), The Good Polity. Normative Analysis of the State, Oxford 1989.
2. Jens Beckert, Beyond the Market. The Social Foundations of Economic Efficiency, Princeton 2002 (dt. 1997)
3. E J. Mishan, Elements of Cost-Benefit Analysis, London 1972.
4. A.Sen, Rationality and Freedom, Cambridge, Mass./London 2002, S. 524



Claus Dierksmeier, „Amartya Sen, Ökonomie für den Menschen (1999)“ in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconSen I
Amartya Sen
Collective Choice and Social Welfare: Expanded Edition London 2017

Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-04-24
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