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Needs, Incommensurability and Well-being

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  • Mozaffar Qizilbash

Abstract

Some have argued for the priority of needs in moral and development theory, on the grounds that people have conflicting and incommensurable values and conceptions of the good. In this paper, I concentrate on one version of this view, that due to John Rawls. Rawls' view is that a person's advantage should be evaluated in terms of certain primary goods which are citizens' needs. I outline a variation on James Griffin's account of well-being, which involves certain values that make any human life better—prudential values. I argue that such values are commensurable, and that the account is consistent with pluralism. The discussion supports and helps us to understand various criticisms of Rawls. It also suggests that one argument for the priority of needs in development theory is invalid.

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File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/751245295
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 9 (1997)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 261-276

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Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:9:y:1997:i:3:p:261-276

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Cited by:
  1. Qizilbash, Mozaffar, 1997. "Pluralism and well-being indices," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 2009-2026, December.
  2. U. Witt & C. Schubert, 2008. "Constitutional Interests in the Face of Innovations: How Much Do We Need to Know about Risk Preferences?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2008-03, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  3. Mozaffar Qizilbash, 2002. "Development, Common Foes and Shared Values," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 463-480.
  4. Alkire, Sabina, 2002. "Dimensions of Human Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 181-205, February.

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