Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian School, read thoroughly Aristotle. The influence of the Ancient philosopher upon his own theories of a subjective value and the role of subjectivism has been recognized by commentators, from Oscar Kraus to Barry Smith. Nevertheless, its philological proof has not yet been given. This is what we intend to do in this article by establishing the first accurate correspondence between the manuscript annotations left by Menger in his copy of the Nicomachean Ethics and his own copy of his Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre (1871). For this purpose, we explored the major Menger Archives kept in Japan since 1922 and little examined ever by researchers. Menger upheld the theory of essence and also the scale of goods – “to survive – to live / to live for the good” – common to Ancient Greek thought, yet particularly well illustrated in Aristotle’s works. Menger used these schemes as a means to elaborate his own subjective theory of value that revolutionized late XIXth century economics. This article also outlines why this reading of Menger’s “work in progress” is relevant to a necessary comparison of the two editions of the Grundsätze (1871 and 1923, posthumous and edited by his son).
An analysis of the notion of proceduralism shows that it is given two very different meanings in the literature. We establish a sufficient condition for these two meanings to become coherent with one another, based on a pragmatic approach to the notion of acceptability. We then argue that, if this sufficient condition is accepted, then any proceduralist attempt at overcoming welfarism must involve a method based on the formation of preferences.
This article establishes, on the one hand, that the use of the concept of capability as a simple “metric” of human development is a reductionist view of Sen’s intellectual enterprise. On the other hand, it aims to show that it is vain to expect from Sen a theory of justice in terms of rights to certain capabilities. We present two lines of arguments: 1) By taking the standard and original hypothesis of capability as the set of functionings that are feasible for a person to achieve (e.g., Sen 1987), we highlight four theoretical implications of Sen’s approach that the perspective of “formal welfarism” (Fleurbaey 2003; D’Aspremont 2011) does not allow us to understand; 2) We consolidate this reading by examining the hypothesis—under-explored until now—of capability as “effective power” to act in the direction of results that we value (Sen 2008, 2009). In both cases, we show that capability, for Sen, is anything but a “metric” of individual advantage and we confirm the idea that Sen is not a capability theorist like most commentators expect (Baujard and Gilardone 2017). Furthermore, the second hypothesis leads to incorporating from the outset the issue of moral obligation in the concept of capability. As a result, not only is capability not a metric of personal advantage, but it is not a representation of personal advantage at all. This is where we identify the genuine conceptual revolution of Sen which, contrary to what Ricœur (2004) thought, does not lie in the right-capability pair, but in the responsibility-capability pair, forcing us to rethink the standard framework of theories of justice. Finally, it appears that Sen shares the ideas of the proponents of the economics of the person (Ballet et al. 2014), the idea that a theory of justice in terms of rights to certain capabilities would remain trapped by a purely functional view of freedom. Above all, highlighting the responsibility-capability pair opens the way for new perspectives on people’s liberty and rationality, especially in questions of justice and collective choice.