The argument does not create the idea, the idea creates the argument. [Link]
So says Manu Joseph in this article. Nothing new. I saw it the first time two years ago in Jonathan Haidt’s ‘Righteous Mind’. That too, I am sure, was not the first time it was mentioned or discovered but that Haidt himself had cited from research.
We do not use reason to make decisions or to form priors but we use them to rationalise decisions we make or to validate our priors.
Having said this in a somewhat complicated way, Manu Joseph goes on to demonstrate that the article itself was a very laboured attempt to make the point – totally unconnected to the issue – that, for him, Amartya Sen is a more ‘conscientious’ person whereas Bhagwati was a mere ‘economist’.
Regardless of the motives and the manner in which Bhagwati argued with Amartya Sen, he was absolutely right to challenge the notion that economic growth did not matter or that distribution mattered more.