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Forum on Public Policy Online

Vol 2012 no1

Values||Poverty and Global Security||Environment||Early Childhood||Women's Issues||


Values (Religion, Ethics and Values)

Maria Curie-Skłodowska's Hierarchy of Values
Adam Kalbarczyk, Lecturer, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland

This paper examines Maria Curie-Skłodowska's philosophy of life and aims to identify and reconstruct her hierarchy of values. The study also focuses on how the scientist’s ‘private’ theory of values influenced her life and scientific work, and therefore, led to her success—namely, to be the first woman in history receiving the Nobel Prize (in Physics in 1903 and in Chemistry in 1911). The essay is based on Maria Curie-Skłodowska’s thoughts and beliefs expressed in her writing  (including letters and autobiographical notes). Special attention is paid to her attitude to traditional moral questions and philosophical issues concerning women’s involvement in social life.


Amartya Sen’s Concept of Human Rights: Agency’s Vital Role
Santosh Saha, Professor of History, Mount Union University

 Agency is used in sociology and philosophy to refer to the capacity of an agent to act in preserving a moral standard of some accepted social norms. In sociology, an agent is an individual, engaged with social structure. In Hegelian and Marxist philosophical tradition, human agency is historical collectivity, rather than arising from individual behavior. In contrast, Anthony Giddens (The Constitution of Society, 1984) argues that rationality allows an agent to respond correctly to reasons that an active agent perceives, not just acting on wants. Amartya Kumar Sen, a Nobel Laureate in developmental economic philosophy, concurs, but adds that agent’s direct knowledge of his society informs his action, which reveals social abuses. Most social scientists and many philosophers are engaged in discussions about dichotomies of social structures: agency/structure, subjective/objective and micro/macro perspectives. Instead, at least after 1992, Sen has increasingly supplemented the descriptive account of agency to argue that human agency is both self-regarding and other-regarding with normative motivation. His agency is now participatory agency in contrast with the medieval European “patient,” having no freedom of action. His contention is that agency and well-being are two separate issues in human rights, including women’s rights as human rights. My current study examines his strategies in projecting agency’s role in human rights, improving on the existing literature that deals with human development, not human rights. A prime conclusion is that human agency is both self-regarding and other-regarding with normative and ethical social values.



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