Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 7
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    BROWNLEE, KIMBERLEY 2016. Ethical Dilemmas of Sociability. Utilitas, Vol. 28, Issue. 01, p. 54.

    Lawlor, Rob 2015. Delaying Obsolescence. Science and Engineering Ethics, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 401.

    Schuppert, Fabian 2013. Distinguishing basic needs and fundamental interests. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Vol. 16, Issue. 1, p. 24.

    Ward, Andrew and Johnson, Pamela Jo 2013. Necessary Health Care and Basic Needs: Health Insurance Plans and Essential Benefits. Health Care Analysis, Vol. 21, Issue. 4, p. 355.

    Schuppert, Fabian 2012. Reconsidering resource rights: the case for a basic right to the benefits of life-sustaining ecosystem services. Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 8, Issue. 2-3, p. 215.

    Reader, Soran 2006. Does a Basic Needs Approach Need Capabilities?. Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 14, Issue. 3, p. 337.

    Hooker, Brad 2005. Fairness. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 8, Issue. 4, p. 329.


Needs, Moral Demands and Moral Theory

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2004

In this article we argue that the concept of need is as vital for moral theory as it is for moral life. In II we analyse need and its normativity in public and private moral practice. In III we describe simple cases which exemplify the moral demandingness of needs, and argue that the significance of simple cases for moral theory is obscured by the emphasis in moral philosophy on unusual cases. In IV we argue that moral theories are inadequate if they cannot describe simple needs-meeting cases. We argue that the elimination or reduction of need to other concepts such as value, duty, virtue or care is unsatisfactory, in which case moral theories that make those concepts fundamental will have to be revised. In conclusion, we suggest that if moral theories cannot be revised to accommodate needs, they may have to be replaced with a fully needs-based theory.

Corresponding author
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *