Risk and Asymmetry in Development Ethics

  • Julian Jonker The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


Risk is implicit in economic development. When does a course of economic development ethically balance risk and likely benefit? This paper examines the view of risk we find in Amartya Sen’s work on development. It shows that Sen’s capabilities approach leads to a more sensitive understanding of risk than traditional utility theory. Sen’s approach also supplies the basis of an argument for risk aversion in interventions that affect economic development. Sen’s approach describes development as aiming at freedom. The paper shows how this claim can be made compatible with the social and relational basis of African communitarianism.


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Author Biography

Julian Jonker, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Julian Jonker is an Assistant Professor in Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


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