PA 327: Comparative Development Administration, Second Semester 2008-2009
Dean Alex Brillantes Jr., PhD
Submitted by: Sofronio “Toti” Dulay, DPA Student
REACTION PAPER TO CHAPTERS 1, 2, 4 & 6 OF “DEVELOPMENT AS FREEDOM” BY AMARTYA SEN
The paper shows the relationship of development and freedom. Basically the book is saying that development and freedom has a direct relationship. Development is a “process of expanding freedoms that people enjoy.” In a way, the book is arguing against the propensity of some authors to talk of development in terms of quantifiable GNP, income and the likes. To the author, development requires the removal or at least, lessening of what he termed as “unfreedom” such as poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, social deprivation, and neglect of public facilities or repressive states.
The way I see it, and perhaps as a way to add to the thesis of the author, there must be a way to find the correlation of freedom and development in several typologies of the stages of the development of any state. Are freedom and development directly proportional, meaning, the higher is the stage of development, the higher is the freedom? Or inversely proportional: the higher is the development, the lower is the freedom? When are they directly proportional and when are they inversely proportional?
Another interesting I would like the author to expound is the concept of the means and the end as applied to freedom and development. Is the freedom the end or the means of development ? In what way? In what situation?
Actually, the author did say that “freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means”. In a way, freedom and development are the end and the means of each other, a cyclical relationship (my opinion, not of the author). Said other way, the more freedom a society has, the more development it can have, and vice versa. The only aberration to this addendum of mine is what the author termed as Lee Thesis (from Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore), that too much freedom is not good for economic development. But the author is quick to say that the Lee Thesis is based on too little empirical evidence.
The author proceeded with a 12 – chapter development of his book.
The first chapter talks about the perspective of freedom. The author said that “the useful ness of wealth lies in the things that it allows us to do – the substantive freedoms it helps us to achieve.” He said that it is important to see development in the perspective in the substantive freedom of people. It will make us understand deeper the process of promoting it. But because components of freedom are heterogeneous, comparing and ranking development experiences based on precise criterion is not suggested by the author.
This hesitation of the author to try to be precise is a typical “defense mechanism” of the so called “intellectuals” that borders, at worst on intellectual dishonesty. The tactics being is to appear “sophisticated” as one can be by avoiding categorical assertions and in the process hiding in the comfort of confusion. The game plan is to avoid being cornered with an idiotic notion.
It could have been better if the author will present a framework of ranking and comparing the “development as freedom” experiences of nations based on precise typology and in the process contribute into making public administration as a science. When the framers of MDG put together concepts into quantitative goals and targets, they try hard to be precise and were not afraid to be different or wrong – because they are honest about what they know and what they want.
Chapter 2 talks about the end and means of development by saying “enhancement of human freedom is both the main object and the primary means of development” The society and the state has the role of strengthening and safeguarding human capabilities. Said other way, the state should remove or lessen hunger, diseases, violence and ignorance from hampering the capability of its citizens to pursue what they want.
One problem with this kind of valuation for development is that this is so hard to quantify because the valuation is qualitative. The problem with qualitative valuation is it is so subjective that it is so hard to compare across different countries. It is even possible that pushing countries into a development ranking based on freedom might end up doing it like in a beauty contest – with common set of judge and an attempt to subject them to a common set of criteria, with a reminder that the decision of the board of judges is final.
Chapter 4 is a detailed attempt to link poverty as a capability deprivation. The author noted that economists concentrate too much on efficiency and less on equity. Differences in mortality show the inequities among races, classes and gender. Income does not automatically convert into a certain desired lifestyle and capabilities.
A Pinoy earning dollar in the US does not mean that he is better off than a Pinoy earning peso in the Philippines. In the US, a Pinoy will always feel as a second class citizen. He has no freedom “not to work” in the US because it is “no work – no eat” there. A Pinoy spending his income in the US has also to contend with high cost of living – negating his high income earned in dollar in the US relatively to a peso earned in the Philippines.
Chapter 6 talks about the importance of democracy as an essential component of the process of development. The permissive roles of political freedom and civil rights demonstrated usefulness in preventing economic disasters. Organized opposition is important. “More informed and less marginalized public discussion of environmental issues may not only be good for the environment; it could also be important to the health and functioning of the democratic system itself.” 
Too much democracy, like the forum shopping or court injunctions, oftentimes delays or hampers governmental functions. Eventually, it might hinder other freedoms like freedom from poverty because it may delay economic activities. A call for the elimination or toning down of these “excesses” of democracy is in order. It is at this instance where Bayani Fernando and Lee Kuan Yew has a point.
 Development as Freedom. Amartya Sen. Anchor Books. New york. p. 3
 Ibid. p.14
 Ibid. p.53