Collective Choice and Social Welfare

Amartya Sen

Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen's first great book, now reissued in a fully revised and expanded second edition

'Can the values which individual members of society attach to different alternatives be aggregated into values for society as a whole, in a way that is both fair and theoretically sound? Is the majority principle a workable rule for making decisions? How should income inequality be measured? When and how can we compare the distribution of welfare in different societies?'

These questions, from the citation by the Swedish Academy of Sciences when Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, refer to his work in Collective Choice and Social Welfare, the most important of all his early books. Originally published in 1970, this classic work in welfare economics has been recognized for its ground-breaking role in integrating economics and ethics, and for its influence in opening up new areas of research in social choice, including aggregative assessment. It has also had a large influence on international organizations, including the United Nations, particularly in its work on human development. In its original version, the book showed that the 'impossibility theorems' in social choice theory-led by the pioneering work of Kenneth Arrow-need not be seen as destructive of the possibility of reasoned and democratic social choice.

Sen's ideas about social choice, welfare economics, inequality, poverty and human rights have continued to evolve since the book's first appearance. This expanded edition, which begins by reproducing the 1970 edition in its entirety, goes on to present eleven new chapters of new arguments and results. As in the original version, the new chapters alternate between non-mathematical chapters completely accessible to all, and those which present mathematical arguments and proofs. The reader who prefers to shun mathematics can follow all the non-mathematical chapters on their own, to receive a full, informal understanding. There is also a substantial new introduction which gives a superb overview of the whole subject of social choice.

An Uncertain Glory

Jean Dreze (and others)

After regaining independence in 1947, India immediately adopted a firmly democratic political system. The famines of the British era disappeared, along with economic stagnation; despite a recent dip, India's growth remains among the fastest in the world. Yet, Drèze and Sen argue, there have been failures both to foster participatory growth and to make good use of the public resources generated by economic growth to enhance people's living conditions.

This book presents a powerful analysis not only of India's deprivations and inequalities, but also of the restraints on addressing them - and of the possibility of change through democratic practice.

The Idea of Justice

Amartya Sen

From Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice is a refreshing alternative approach to mainstream theories of justice.

Is justice an ideal, for ever beyond our grasp, or something that may actually guide our practical decisions and enhance our lives?

At the heart of Sen's argument is his insistence on the role of public reason in establishing what can make societies less unjust. But there are always choices to be made between alternative assessments of what is reasonable, and competing positions can each be well defended. Rather than rejecting these pluralities, we should use them to construct a theory of justice that can accommodate divergent points of view. Sen also inspiringly shows how the principles of justice in the modern world must avoid parochialism and address vital questions of global injustice.

The breadth of vision, intellectual acuity and striking humanity of one of the world's leading public intellectuals have never been more clearly shown than in this remarkable book.

'A major advance in contemporary thinking'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;John Gray, Literary Review

'The most important contribution to the subject since John Rawls's A Theory of Justice'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Hilary Putnam, Harvard University

'Sen writes with dry wit, a feel for history and a relaxed cosmopolitanism ... a conviction that economists and philosophers are in business to improve the world burns on almost every page'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Economist

'Sen's magisterial critique of the dominant mode of liberal political philosophy confirms him as the English-speaking world's pre-eminent public intellectual'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;New Statesman Books of the Decade

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge 1998-2004. His most recent books are The Argumentative Indian, Identity and Violence and Development as Freedom. His books have been translated into thirty languages.

Identity and Violence

Amartya Sen

Profound and humane, Amartya Sen's Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny examines some of the most explosive problems of our time and shows how we can move towards peace as firmly as we have spiralled towards war.

In this penetrating book, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen argues that we are becoming increasingly divided along lines of religion and culture, ignoring the many other ways in which people see themselves, from class and profession to morals and politics. When we are put into narrow categories the importance of human life becomes lost.

Through his lucid exploration of such subjects as multiculturalism, fundamentalism, terrorism and globalization, he brings out the need for a clear-headed understanding of human freedom and a constructive public voice in Global civil society. The hope of harmony in today's world lies in a clearer understanding of our sheer diversity.

'Identity and Violence is a moving, powerful essay about the mischief of bad ideas'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;The Economist

'Impassioned, eloquent and often moving, Identity and Violence is a sustained attack on the "solitarist" theory which says that human identities are formed by membership of a single social group' <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;John Gray, Guardian

'Rich in ideas ... I would love to send it to Osama bin Laden and have his reply'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Spectator

'Sen's moving and most personal book yet'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;The Times Literary Supplement

'Stimulating ... simple and persuasive'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Financial Times

'An accessible and exceptional humanitarian'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Jon Snow, New Statesman Heroes of Our Time

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998. His other books published by Penguin include The Argumentative Indian and The Idea of Justice.

The Argumentative Indian

Amartya Sen

From Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity brings together an illuminating selection of writings on contemporary India.

India is an immensely diverse country with many distinct pursuits, vastly different convictions, widely divergent customs and a veritable feast of viewpoints.

Out of these conflicting views spring a rich tradition of skeptical argument and cultural achievement which is critically important, argues Amartya Sen, for the success of India's democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

'Profound and stimulating ... the product of a great mind at the peak of its power'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;William Dalrymple, Sunday Times

'One of the most influential public thinkers of our times...This is a book that needed to have been written...It would be no surprise if it were to become as defining and as influential as work as Edward Said's Orientalism'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Soumya Bhattacharya, Observer

'The winner of the 1998 Nobel prize in economics is a star in India ... he deserves the recognition ... shows that the argumentative gene is not just a part of India's make-up that can easily be wished away'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;The Economist

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge 1998-2004. His most recent books are The Idea of Justice, Identity and Violence and Development as Freedom. His books have been translated into thirty languages.


Amartya Sen is one of the world's leading public intellectuals. He is Professor of Economics and Professor of Philosophy at Harvard. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1998 to 2004, and won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998. His many celebrated books include Development as Freedom (1999), The Argumentative Indian (2005) and The Idea of Justice (2010). They have been translated into more than 30 languages.