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Reader, Soran. Does a Basic Needs Approach Require Capabilities?
2006, Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (3):337–350

In this article I consider criticisms of the basic needs approach (BNA) made by capability theorists, and argue that BNA can meet them all. I conclude that BNA has been unfairlycriticised and too hastily displaced by the capability approach (CA). This raises a further question: whatshould be done? My hope is that defenders of BNA will be encouraged to revivetheir approach by these arguments, and that defenders of CA will be encouragedto reconsider and modify or withdraw their criticisms.

Comment: This essay engages critically with the capabilities approach to social justice and development, advocated for by thinkers such as Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Sabina Alkire and others. Reader challenges the shift away from a basic needs approach, which instead focuses on identifying a set of (somewhat) universal basic needs, and then designing political systems to deliver those needs. The text would therefore provide a interesting counter reading to works by Sen, Nussbuam, Alkire, et. al., as the more mainstream cannon on international development, and would be useful in the context of a class on the social justice philosophy and cosmopolitanism, as well as in classes on political philosophy more generally. Alternately, it could, on its own, provide an introduction to both the capabilities and basic needs approaches, as it offers a brief exploration of what each view entails and considers both the merits and drawbacks of each.

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