Social Policy

A Theory of Human Need by Len Doyal

By Len Doyal

Rejecting trendy subjectivist and cultural relativist ways, this significant e-book argues that humans have common and goal wishes for future health and autonomy and a correct to their optimum pride. The authors advance a procedure of social symptoms to teach what such optimization could suggest in perform and examine the files of a variety of built and underdeveloped economies in assembly their electorate' wishes

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Sample text

In short, to have the urge to act in a particular way must not be confused with an empirical or normative justification for so doing (Thompson, 1987, pp. 13-14). Nevertheless the emphasis on drives and motivations does alert us to the biological background to human needs: to the constraints on human needs given by our genetic structure. If needs are not identical with the drives of the human organism, neither are they disconnected from 'human nature', or the physiological and psychological make-up of homo sapiens.

Relativists, of course, must either explicitly or implicitly endorse the normative character of the distinction between needs and wants. What is perceived to be a need, along with the right to needsatisfaction, is not dictated by universal standards of reason or reality. For the intelligible boundaries of experience are thought to be determined by culture - the conceptual rules which individuate forms of social life. Winch sums up much post-modernist thinking on the matter in two classic sentences: 'Reality is not what gives language sense.

21). So a wide consensus in modern thought agrees that universal and objective human needs do not exist or cannot be formulated coherently. Indeed, the reader must by now be wondering what there is left to say in this book. From the political Right, Left and Who Needs Human Needs? 21 Centre, from traditional disciplines and post-modernist thought, from economics, sociology, philosophy and discourse theory, from radical feminism and anti-racism, the charge is the same: the quest for universal and objective needs is a search for a will-o'-the-wisp.

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