This paper focuses on the philosophy of development from an economic view and a more philosophical view. The economic theory of development will be explicated within the neoclassical framework. Neoclassical economics has been the leading theory used within the context of development and focuses on raising the GDP per capita. The proposed philosophical view of development shall be Amartya Sen's capability theory based on increasing the freedom of an individual. Chapters 2 will develop the foundations of neoclassical economics. From that foundation, microeconomic theory will be developed as development on the microeconomic level within neoclassical theory. Then the argument for the theory of neoclassical development will be explained. Chapter 3 will critique the means and ends of the neoclassical theory of economic development. Chapter 4 will focus on Sen's theory, development as freedom. Within this chapter, it will shown how Sen's conception of development differs from the previous theory as his theory is based on freedoms and not solely income levels. After Sen's means and ends have been explicated, they will also be critiqued. The sixth chapter will begin to lay the foundation for a normative theory of development. This foundation consists of three claims of development that are taken from the downfalls of the previous two theories. These three claims are concerned with the proper means, the proper ends and the place of culture within development. The final chapter shall address four kinds of claims concerning values within the context of development. These four kinds of claims are analyzed showing that the mistakes of the neoclassical and capability theory are made because these theories confuse these four kinds of claims together. With this analysis, the four kinds of value claims will be discussed within the context of a normative theory for development.


Economics; Philosophy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2008 Erik Russell Larson