Analysis of "Democracy as a Universal Value" by Amartya Sen Essay example

1470 Words Feb 6th, 2007 6 Pages
In his article, Democracy as a Universal Value, Amartya Sen asserts that democracy is a universal value. In order to develop his argument Sen needs to state his definition of democracy and define what he means by universal value. In the course of Sen's argument he gives his view of the relationship between democracy and the economy. He then defends his view of democracy as a universal value against a main argument that deals with cultural differences between regions. Amartya Sen uses a maximum definition of democracy. Sen believes that a democracy has more qualities than just rule by the majority. "Democracy is a demanding system, and not just a mechanical condition (like majority rule) taken in isolation" (Sen 5). Sen believes …show more content…
Sen considers something a universal value if "people anywhere may have reason to see it as valuable" (6). Some people have argued that democracy is not a universal value because not everyone agrees that democracy is valuable and important. However, according to Sen, complete, unanimous approval by all people is not needed for something to be considered a universal value. Using this definition Sen successfully defends his claim that democracy is a universal value, despite the fact that some people may not agree on the value of democracy. In his argument on the universal value of democracy Amartya Sen discusses the relationship between democracy and economic development. He notes that it is often claimed that nondemocratic systems are better at bringing about economic development than democratic ones. Sen disagrees with this claim. He asserts that this hypothesis is based on "very selective and limited information" (3). He admits that it is true that some disciplinarian states, like South Korea, Singapore, and postreform China, have had faster rates of economic growth than many less authoritarian ones, like India, Jamaica, and Costa Rica (3). However, he points out that this very selective evidence cannot be used to establish the general hypothesis that nondemocratic systems are better at bringing about economic development (3). "There is no convincing evidence that authoritarian governance and the suppression of political and civil rights are