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date: 20 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses several debates concerning needs and distributive justice, and argues that the debate between egalitarians and sufficientarians has not been as productive as it could have been. The issue is not whether we should prefer equality or sufficiency, but rather what is the proper role for each in an account of distributive justice. Several prominent debates concerning needs and distributive justice are also addressed. Among needs-theorists there is convergence on what counts as a need and the needs claims that give rise to appropriate claims of justice. There is a role for needs to play in distributive justice that does not displace concern with several neighboring concepts such as desert or equality. Though there are several ways of interpreting the advice to distribute “to each according to his needs,” some important guidance on how to establish priorities among different needs claims is also available.

Keywords: needs, human needs, sufficiency, distributive justice, equality, according to needs, justice, David Miller, Harry Frankfurt, responsibilities

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