Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Democracy and Human Development

(Conference Paper, PHAVISMINDA Conference, Ilo-ilo City, 2011)

In this paper, I will argue that while the democratic rights and entitlements of people are important, it matters how people are really able to fully use them, and how they use them depends on their sense of self-worth. The basic point is that to make democracy work, it must be stressed that democratic procedures alone do not guarantee the creation of a just or well-ordered society. In this sense, I will explain the important distinction between procedural and substantive democracy. If democracy is meant to serve the moral ends of society, then it must benefit ordinary people. Human development begins with the kind of choices people make and these choices are a reflection of the substantive freedoms people have and enjoy. Democratic institutions need to be repaired and strengthened, but this requires more than the improvement of constitutional provisions. The value of true democracy then depends on how people value their dignity as human beings.

Friday, March 4, 2011

On Amartya Sen's "Development as Freedom"

“Development as freedom,” in the work of Amartya Sen, means that the achievement of human well-being is “commensurate to the amount of freedom people do enjoy”. The lack thereof, due to cultural or political impediments, most especially among women, curtails the very meaning of life. But what is the meaning of human life? Crucial to the answer of this question, I think, is to be able to consider in the first place, why one asks such a question. The question is asked not because there are ends that human beings desire. The question is posed because without this question, the ends with which we position ourselves don’t have any meaning at all.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Human Rights and Moral Education

(Conference Paper, PHAVISMINDA Conference, Tangub City, 2009)

What is moral education? This is the unpleasant question that I will examine in this paper. My intention is to bring into the open the root cause of all the evil pervading Philippine society. This paper puts into contrast, anxious of its possible failure, but hopeful of its potential, the humanist and the communitarian traditions that have inspired the search for the Filipino spirit. In terms of method, I will use Western philosophers and Filipino thinkers, hoping that the end result would enable us to play with the response to the question, and provide an opening to the window that leads us forth to the many possibilities of social change.