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A Broader Look. A New Approach to Poverty and Human Flourishing. Julio Boltvinik (2005)

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Presentation on theme: "A Broader Look. A New Approach to Poverty and Human Flourishing. Julio Boltvinik (2005)"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Broader Look. A New Approach to Poverty and Human Flourishing. Julio Boltvinik (2005)

2 Purpose, central value, hope To broaden our look in order to grasp and understand the complete human being. I conceive the realisation of human potentialities as the central value and do not confound it with material abundance (to be, not to have). As most non-poor are far away from such realisation, overcoming (economic) poverty will not translate into human flourishing (HF). My hope is for public policy oriented towards human flourishing.

3 Contents of this Presentation Purpose, Central Value, Hope. (1) Foundations of the New Approach in Philosophical Anthropology. (5) Critical Assessment of Poverty Studies. (5) The New Approach to Poverty and Human Flourishing (9) Other Contributions (2)

4 Foundations of the New Approach in Philosophical Anthropology

5 Marx-Markus: Philosophical Anthropology I The central distinction between the human species and all other species lies in the fact that human vital activity, work, is directed towards need fulfilment in a mediated way (tool-making animal). This makes the human being a natural universal being, capable of transforming into an object of his needs and his activities, everything in nature. As this takes place, the human being develops his needs and his capacities, i.e. his human essential forces. The human being is a product of his own work (historical universal being).

6 Marx-Markus: Philosophical Anthropology II Work severs the animal fusion of subject and object of needs, giving birth to human conscience and self-conscience, which tend to universality (universally conscious being). In work, the conditions for the human being as a social being are also given. Human beings cant have a human life except in their relations with other human beings. Work is social both because men (women) work for each other, and because they employ means and capacities generated by the preceding generations (social universal being).

7 Marx-Markus: philosophical anthropology III The human being is a free being in two senses: 1.Liberty (negative) from the determinations and relations (which have become chains), possibility given by self-consciousness which transforms his/her life into an object of his/her activity. 2.Liberty (positive): control by humankind over forces of nature (including own nature), the development of human creativity, of human essential forces which becomes an end in itself. Individual liberty means that the individual can realise objective possibilities (socially produced) according to his conscious decisions.

8 Marx-Markus: Conception of Human Needs Needs (except original biological needs) are as produced as products of work and working capacities. Production creates not only the object of consumption, but the mode of consumption, the consumption impulse and the consumer himself. The preceding reveals itself in the humanisation of biological needs and in the creation of new needs (e.g. learning and aesthetic needs, scientific curiosity).

9 Marx, Maslow and Fromm Concur Maslow maintains that human needs are instintoide, as among the 3 elements of instinct (impulse, activity, object), human beings inherit only the impulse and must learn the other two. Fromm says that at a certain point in evolution life became conscious about itself, so action ceased to be determined by instincts. This break with total dominion by instinct coincides with the rupture represented by work as a mediated activity, as tool making is a non- instinctive activity. The preceding are the two sides of the same break, break which implies a great liberty leap and is central to the understanding of human essence.

10 Critical Assessment of Poverty Studies.


12 Poverty Studies. Prevailing Conditions I The subject is dominated by standard economists who simulate that utility is the constitutive element of poverty/standard of living, whereas in fact it is income (some times adjusted income). As a consequence, their poverty definition is a tautology: lack of income to reach a level of income. It is impossible, in the scale of income by itself, to define a threshold with some human meaning. The arbitrariness which they show off reflects their conceptual poverty.

13 Poverty Studies. Prevailing Conditions II The current of thought which originated in Townsends work, which seemed to broaden the look, has twice gone back to a narrow view: a) When Townsend, looking for the objective PL, reduced his multiple indicators to the role of means to reveal the objective PL. b) When the authors applying the truly poor approach reduced their apparent broadness to a search for a coincidence between directly observed deprivation and low income. In this way, this approach concurs (implicitly) with the one by the standard economists in the following aspects: a) making current income the only well being source; b) adopting a narrow view of the good life which depends only on access to goods and services which are acquired only through monetizable income.

14 Poverty Studies. Prevailing Conditions III Sens capability approach can be regarded as a third way. His approach looks broad but remains narrow. Although Sen rejects the subjectivity of utilitarism, and replaces it with more objective neoconcepts (which are ambiguous and non-operational) he remains attached to the mechanistic approach of neoclassical theory, for which well-being derives only from the consumption of goods. Capabilities do not refer to human capacities (skills, abilities, knowledge), but to economic opportunities determined by income. They are economic capabilities. Sen, in contrast with Nussbaum, avoids value judgements (even the obvious ones) condemning his approach to being sterile.

15 Poverty Studies. Prevailing Conditions IV Fourth way: approaches which incorporate other sources of well-being (besides current income). Vickery incorporates time availability (income-time method), while in the Index of Social Progress* (IPS), Desai includes basic and non-basic assets, access to free goods and services and knowledge/skills. In the Integrated Poverty Measurement Method (IPMM), I incorporate all six mentioned sources. IPMM is an economic poverty measurement approach consistent with static and qualitatively equal needs amongst everybody. Separate and specific handling of every well being source is a reflection of everyday life. On the contrary, re-expressing all them as income (economic status approach) is artificial. This separate handling in IPMM, which reflects the limits of the market system, seems inevitable.

16 The New Approach to Poverty and Human Flourishing

17 The Departure Points. A Résumé. I Human history can be seen as the trajectory toward universalisation of human needs, capacities, social being and conscience. This view of the human beings essence in Marx- Markus, is reinforced by: a) The concurrence of Maslow and Fromm regarding the difference between man and animal. b) The (mostly implicit) concurrence of Maslow, Fromm, Maccoby, Max Neef, Doyal-Gough, Nussbaum and Sen, regarding the complementary character of the passive and the active sides in human beings, which can be identified with the concept of human essential forces (needs & capacities).

18 The Departure Points. A Résumé. II The identification of multiple conceptual axes, two of which are of interest here: the Human Flourishing Axis (HFA) and the Standard of Living Axis (SLA). The definition that the constitutive element of both axes is the development of human essential forces (needs and capacities). The perception that broaching the SLA directly generates both a narrow look (material needs only, satisfied by objects acquired with monetizable resources only) as well as mistaken assessments of SL and poverty.

19 The Departure Points. A Résumé. III There is an enormous distance between non instrumental, categorical needs, on one hand, and desires, wants and preferences on the other. This distance is explained by the presence of harm when needs are unmet. Evaluation and description of many social facts are, and should be, entangled. Poverty facts cant be described without previously establishing what we understand by poverty, which implies an individual or social evaluation.

20 Two Conceptual Axes: Human Flourishing and Standard of Living Standard of living axis : the complete human being seen only from the economic perspective Economic Poverty Threshold Econ. Poor Economic non poor Human flourishing axis: the complete human being, seen from multiple perspectives Abstract (cut) Dividing line Human povertyHuman Wealth

21 Societal & Individual Levels in HFA

22 Development of Needs We are used to think about needs in static terms; the only thing we ask about them is if theyre met or not. Development of needs can be conceived as : 1) the widening of their range; and 2) their qualitative development. Extension: not all persons have developed (e.g.) the seven needs of Maslows scheme. Some are trapped in deficit motivation, while others are growth motivated. Qualitative development: humanisation/deepening of needs (educated ear needs good music; the developed intellect does not satisfy the understanding need with religious myths).

23 New Wealth/Poverty Concepts

24 Juans Human Condition HWS HWEHPE HPS Juans Economic Condition EWS EPEEWE EPS · · · · · · · · H: human; W: wealth; P: poverty; S: ser (structural being); E: estar (circumstantial being) · Juan Works as a physical anthropologist; adequate salary; · inadequate salary. · Juan Works as bureaucrat; adequate salary; · inadequate salary. · Juan is unemployed

25 The New in the New Approach In the new approach, the following features are to be noted as new: Distinction of the two axes (HFA & SLA) and definition of the abstract (cut) procedure, conceived as cutting away perspectives to leave the economic one alone. Definition of the unity needs-capacities as the constitutive element of both axes. Distinction of the sub axes (societal & individual) in each axis. The development of two concepts of poverty: human & economic, each one with its ser and estar dimensions. Integration of a holistic approach founded in a vision of the human essence. These breakthroughs would have been impossible without the critical vision of poverty studies.

26 Other Theoretical Contributions 1.Draft of a new aggregate measure of poverty, derived from the critical appraisal of distributional sensitive (within the poor) aggregate poverty measures. 2.Development of a typology of satisfiers integrated by objects (goods and services), relations, activities, capacities and institutions. 3.Development of reproduction circulation schemes for a typology of households as a foundation of the notion of well-being sources. 4.Outline of a new consumer theory based on the notion of a hierarchy of needs.

27 Main Critical Contributions 1.Critique of Doyal-Goughs theory of needs. 2.Critique of Sens capability approach, which was essential for an approach centred on capacities and needs. 3.Critique of neoclassical consumer theory. 4.Critique of poverty concepts and measurement methods. 5.Critical history of poverty measurements on Mexico.

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