Dr. Amartya Sen at the 2013 Kellogg Biennial Lecture on Jurisprudence

Click here for the video of the lecture.

At the 2013 Kellogg Biennial Lecture on Jurisprudence, Dr. Amartya Sen spoke on the importance of reasoned disagreement in the creation of shared conception(s) of justice. He noted that to understand the role of reasoned disagreement, it is important in fact to understand that reasoned agreement in theories of justice, as notably outlined by Lord Hewart in 1923 and “legendary” Harvard Professor John Rawls and his work in Theories of Justice, seek not mere agreement, neither instrumental nor functional, but the fostering of the conditions of reasoning on societal affairs. Dr. Sen argues that this very fostering requires us “to encourage and facilitate rather than dissuade or stifle reasoned disagreement” because of what he calls the non-dichotomous distinctions between facts and values  in the “implicit contingency” of “factual valuations” that play in our judgments and conclusions.

“We make very extensive use of some factual beliefs, often implicitly without mentioning it at all about the world surrounds us, and these connections may be critically important for our valuational conclusions.  The scope for arguing about and disagreeing on the acceptability of the underlying presumptions including factual proposition can be widespread and extensive even though the sanguine believers of their own reading of the real world may not at all like entering that territory of examination.”

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