This chapter discusses Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach to human development from the standpoint of the concept of happiness. It locates Sen’s work against the background of the recent capabilities versus happiness debate. Sen’s version of the capabilities approach is commonly regarded as a critique of the happiness approach to development ethics. It is sometimes assumed that he attaches no importance at all to the value of happiness. I argue that this view misrepresents what Sen has to say about the value of happiness in his writings. A distinctive feature of Sen’s views on this subject is that he agrees with the view that happiness is nothing more than subjective mental state and rejects the idea of objective happiness. This distinguishes his version of the capabilities approach from the ethical eudaimonism of both Aristotle and John Stuart Mill. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Sen could and should have taken this idea more seriously than he does.
Burns, T. (2022). Amartya Sen and the Capabilities Versus Happiness Debate: An Aristotelian Perspective. In F. Irtelli, & F. Gabrielli (Eds.), Happiness and Wellness: Biopsychosocial and Anthropological Perspectives. InTech. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.108512