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Mar 15, 2010
But I think you are confusing two things..the difference between a normative and an empirical argument. Arguing like Singer or others that we have universal obligations is NOT an attempt to claim that real people actually act as if they do (ie, a descriptive claim of how people are in the world), but a normative claim..this is how people SHOULD act. Just because some people actually murder other people (an empirical observation) is not an argument against the idea that there should be a universal proscription against murder (outside of self-defense, etc). Or just because some men rape women (An empirical observation) is not a sufficient argument against the idea that we should have a moral (and legal) position against rape. The first is an empirical question (how do people act), and the second a normative one (how should we act). Just because people do not act in ways that reflect a universal commitment to reduce suffering (an empirical observation) is not sufficient argument against the normative idea that we SHOULD have a moral obligation to reduce suffering. There may be other arguments against the idea of such an obligation, but you can't use empirical evidence alone to argue against a normative position.
Toggle Commented Nov 24, 2009 on Obligation to development? at DevPolitics
I would weigh in here as well to say that we it's dangerous to anthropomorphize institutions, governments, organizations, and in this case is particularly problematic. Institutions themselves don't change anything. In fact, they can't change anything. The actions of people can change things (or not), and they may act through institutions to promote or retard change. Talking about institutions in this way I would argue obscures the reality that people do, or do not, make history.
Toggle Commented Nov 12, 2009 on "Development", simply defined. at DevPolitics
Thanks for a great link on the banana issue. Ostrom's work has been very influential in shaping the analysis (not yet as much the practice) of understanding why some small-scale communities are able to sustainably manage natural resources without resorting to privatization or state control..She has in essence helped to codify what many small-scale communities have already accomplished in practice, and in doing so challenged many orthodoxies of the left and right. These insights have yet to be incorporated adequately into many development initiatives. At the same time, many of these small-scale natural resource management schemes are under threat, either from large state or corporate actors, or because population pressure has challenged the sustainability of the rates of extraction in those communities, and if there are few non-resource based occupations available, the tragedy of the commons can still, in fact, occur.
It's totally unclear to me why development and donor have to necessarily be in the same definition. Certainly what happened in OECD countries, would constitute a reasonable definition of development and they would not (mostly) fit in this definition. You seem to be conflating "development" as many people and actors seem to use it, and your own definition of "development" -- why is sustainability not part of development? I would challenge on whether long-term poverty is truly sustainable, and therefore really should qualify as development.
Toggle Commented Oct 27, 2009 on Development at DevPolitics
I would share Michelle's concern with this definition. So is what the Nazis wanted to do constitute "development"? Or al Qaeda? Why is supporting the status quo not "development" if the status quo is serving people well?
Toggle Commented Oct 27, 2009 on "Development", simply defined. at DevPolitics
Just a quick note to your point, Shannon. The original proposition of the Easterlin Paradox only applied to countries who had reached a certain level of per capita GDP, above which changes in per capita income did not seem to be correlated . His point was not that per capita income didn't matter at all, but above a certain threshold it didn't seem to matter. Easterlin's current position has to do, in part, with what one can claim from cross-national statistics..namely, if income and culture both vary, (as they do in cross-national comparisons relating happiness and income) then one can not necessarily exclude the hypothesis that cultural differences come in to play. One can control for culture by looking at happiness over time in the same country, and seeing if reported happiness increases (decreases) as countries get richer (poorer). Interestingly, while Europe and Japan have grown happier since the 1970s as incomes have increased, the U.S. and China have not. (In more focused research on the US anomaly, Stevenson and Wolters find that declining happiness for women since the 1970s explains most of the reason why US happiness has not increased over this period)..their papers are at
Good question and discussion. It seems clear in emergency situations, for example, that external intervention should provide services. But this debate also emerges in the debate (raised by the Edwards reading last week, explored in future readings) over the shift from the role of Northern NGOs being direct service delivery to supporting rights-based approaches to development that focus on strengthening the capacities of local communities to either provide services themselves or effectively demand the state provide such services.