By Len Doyal
Rejecting trendy subjectivist and cultural relativist methods, this crucial publication argues that people have common and target wishes for wellbeing and fitness and autonomy and a correct to their optimum delight. The authors increase a method of social symptoms to teach what such optimization may suggest in perform and investigate the documents of a variety of constructed and underdeveloped economies in assembly their voters' wishes
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Additional info for A Theory of Human Need
To make critical judgements about capitalism requires some criterion of evaluation which distinguishes between needs and preferences - a commitment to the belief that not everything about human nature is historically relative. The upshot is a tension in Marx's own writings between two ideas of need and human natureone uncompromisingly relativist, the other implicitly or explicitly universalist (Soper, 1981, ch. 2). Until recently, the dominant schools of Marxism have echoed and elaborated the relativist rather than the universalist strand (Geras, 1983, ch.
Were this not the case, it would be impossible to identify the reason why the goal is identified as a need and why we believe it to be worth pursuing. To understand, for example, what it means to call physical warmth or a meal a need. we must have a prior understanding of why these are the sorts of things which we must try to acquire if we have the goal of avoiding serious harm. If someone says, 'I need physical warmth The Grammar of 'Need' 41 because I just do' or 'I need a meal because I just feel like one', their use of 'need' will be unclear.
Whatever it is. will be regarded as irrational. There is no way. for example. that a conservative utilitarian can view someone who prefers to maximise the unhappiness of herself and others as anything other than irrational. And this will be the case no matter how correct - and therefore 'rational' in the more narrow sense of the term - the calculation of how to do it happens to be. Libertarians like Nozick must say much the same of a person who successfully plans to have her taxes arbitrarily increased so that her autonomy can be consistently violated as often as possible.