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Brock, Gillian, Soran Reader. Needs-Centred Ethical Theory
2002, Journal of Value Inquiry 36 (4):425-434
Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas

Our aims in this paper are: (1) to indicate some of the many ways in which needs are an important part of the moral landscape, (2) to show that the dominant contemporary moral theories cannot adequately capture the moral significance of needs, indeed, that the dominant theories are inadequate to the extent that they cannot accommodate the insights which attention to needs yield, (3) to offer some sketches that should be helpful to future cartographers charting the domain of morally significant needs, and (4) to consider some anticipated objections to our project and offer some replies.

Comment: This paper outlines a novel approach to ethical theory which places needs as its center. In doing so, the authors engage with three other dominant moral theories of consequentialism, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics, and highlight the ways that a needs-based moral theory may address some of their shortcomings. For this reason, the text may be useful in the context of introductory ethics to highlight the merits and drawbacks of major ethical theories, but also to draw attention to the question of whether there is more work to be done in ethical philosophy. The paper is written in a clear and straightfoward style, and therefore will likely be accessible to a wide range of ability levels.

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