Working Paper series, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management 193
In his Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen compares the two basic approaches to evaluate institutions, transcendental institutionalism and realization-focused comparisons. Referring to Smith's Impartial Spectator, he argues in favour of the latter and proposes the principle of Open Impartiality. However, this cannot solve the tension between universalism and contextualization of values that Sen therefore inherits from Smith. Based on recent Hegel scholarship, we argue that some of the difficulties can be resolved, considering the role Smith played in the development of Hegel's thinking. Hegel's concept of recognition plays an essential role in establishing the possibility of impartiality both on the level of consciousness and on the level of institutional intersubjectivity. Hegel's critique of Kants formalist ethics (also considered as transcendental institutionalism by Sen), his analysis of the civil society in the Philosophy of Right, especially his focus on associations and estates, can serve as a model for making Sen's focus on public discourse theoretically more concise and pragmatically feasible. Hegel shows that universalistic attitudes can only emerge in specific institutional contexts.
Theory of Moral Sentiments Sen Hegel recognition civil society associations public discourse