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GOTOH, Reiko

Professor / Research Division of Theories in Economics and Statistics

Economics & Philosophy


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Previous research

John Rawls provided the idea of “democratic equality” in his “A Theory of Justice”. This idea has certainly expanded the scope of the welfare state after the Second World War. However, the shadow of monism closes in upon even this idea. The social choice theory with “public reasoning” and the capability approach were both proposed by A. Sen and they are remarkable in having a possibility to overcome monism.
The capability approach defines an individual’s capability set and his/her evaluation function over the functioning space, as well as his/her budget set and utility function which are defined over the commodity space. This expansion of traditional economic model is simple but powerful. It sheds a new light on the problem of individual rational choice, a classic, recurring theme in economics.
With the social choice theory based on public reasoning, the capability approach makes it possible to construct a new conception of the distributive justice, i.e., the normative equality under factual diversities. This is an equality of well-being and agency freedom, which takes into account disadvantages of individuals in converting commodities into functionings. However, its operational  formulation is not obvious. 
I have studied how to expand the microeconomic theory based on the capability approach by philosophically reexamining the structure and the meaning of individual rational choice.Moreover I have been exploring a theory of “equality as a norm based on diversity as a fact”. 

Current research projects

In recent years, local reciprocity has drawn attention, while a globally universal order has been pursued. Economics is not an exception. The micro-macro distinction of economic theory is nothing other than a two-sided approach —from the individual or from the whole—to investigating a universal order. The two perspectives are in fact combined to construct a highly abstract general theory. In contrast, recent research on local reciprocity has shaken up economics by focusing on diverse situations and multiple values of individuals. Now we need to construct a theory and social institutions, which support this local reciprocity and connect it with a globally universal order.   
My research theme is to provide a methodological foundation for constructing a “general” theory that can incorporate unique and specific lives of individuals who are struggling with various natural and social contingencies in the society, instead of setting them aside as exceptions to the theory. More concretely, my research interest is to estimate restrictions of capabilities of elders, care-takers and persons with disabilities and, furthermore, to search for more effective social supports or public assistances, based on people's understanding of their own capabilities. I would like to provide an original economic theory from the Institute of Economic Research, where I can collaborate with outstanding positive (empirical) economists. 

theoretical and operational examination of the capability approach, re-construction of liberalism and modern theories of justice, methdological investigation of welfare economics based on the theory of Amartya Sen