Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Second Department


Reader 1

Adrienne Martin

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Rights Information

2021 Sabrina Hartono


Working off of Amartya Sen’s “Development as Freedom,” this paper challenges the conception of political freedoms and their instrumental, constructive and intrinsic roles in the development of society. I explore how identity formation is not as individualistic as Sen implicitly assumes in his framework. Using Elizabeth Anderson’s work on the importance of community in developing an individual identity, as well as incorporating ideas from Marx and Somers, I argue that there is strong reason to believe that Sen’s emphasis on the instrumental and constructive roles of political freedoms is exaggerated. I challenged Sen’s conception of the intrinsic value of political freedoms by demonstrating how his defense against the cultural critique of democracy was insufficient and lacking a holistic context of the geographical and historical legacies of colonialism. A key insight from this undertaking is to consider alternative models of governance through de-emphasising the occupation with individual freedoms. This paper explores Singapore’s “trusteeship” form of governance as an alternative model and the effectiveness of its claims to socially-entrenched norms serving the purpose of Sen’s political freedoms. Furthermore, this paper reframes the debate about “East vs Western cultural values”, focusing less on categorising and tracing the evolution of different values, and taking instead a pragmatic look at other factors such as geographic and material resources of a region and its relationship with a country’s historical trajectory.