Sen and the Bhagavad Gita: Lessons for a Theory of Justice

Asian Philosophy 22 (1):63-74 (2012)
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In The Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen, among other things, discusses certain qualities any adequate theory of justice ought to incorporate. Two important qualities a theory of justice should account for are impartiality/objectivity and sensitivity to consequences. In order to motivate his discussion of sensitivity to consequences, Sen discusses the debate between Krishna and Arjuna from the religio-philosophical Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita. According to Sen, Arjuna represents a sensitivity to consequences while Krishna is an archetypal deontologist. In this paper it will be argued that Sen's interpretation of the Gita is inaccurate. Further, a more adequate interpretation will be presented. What will be of significance is that the more adequate interpretation actually demonstrates the importance of an impartial spectator in moral reasoning. Finally, there will be a discussion of some lessons that can be taken from the Gita regarding justice generally

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Joshua Anderson
Virginia State University


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