Posted by: glue | July 23, 2008

Expression Economics

Expression brings a third position to public policy debates, promoting its own value of well-being against the competing claims of belief (ideology) and knowledge (science). Classical rhetoric addressed these two position as requiring different standards and modes of persuasion (doxa or dialectic). Expression within the electrate apparatus involves the invention of a third mode of persuasion.

The Economy of Expression

The Economy of Expression

A context for working out the particulars of this new policy strategy is provided by the work of Amartya Sen, 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Paul Ricoeur (in The Course of Recognition) summarized Sen’s revolutionary position (for the Social Sciences): that people have a right to certain capacities, enabling capabilities, the feeling of “I can” (possum). This position considers human capacity to act not only in terms of agency, but also of well-being, to determine the broader nature of human motivation, beyond the tenets of utility governing normal-science thinking in his discipline until now.

Sen’s argument is that all humans have a right to choose their own life. His case is based on scientific study of famine, demonstrating that public policy (including the availability of democratic capabilities of choice, individual and collective), rather than access to food, is the primary factor in whether circumstances lead to famine (he contrasts events in India and China). Sen’s theme resonates with the fundamental understanding of human being from Aristotle to Existentialism, that our being is defined by a project, task (ergon), which is to discover and enact the good life

Sen does not address explicitly the capacity to be affected (as far as I know), but the policy strategy entailed by his position supports conatus as a new area of concern not only for the Social Sciences, but for an Internet public sphere in general.

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