The course aims to offer an introduction in the discussion concerning the definition and the normative status of human needs. As we will see, the concept of human needs is deemed to be too vague to be useful both in practical theory and in social, political and economic practice.
Those who want to introduce it in the ethical or political debate must defend themselves against accusations of essentialism or arbitrariness.
We will take into account different approaches that have been adopted to define needs and their role within social or political theory (e.g. as a basis for distributive policies). We shall also discuss the concept in relation to other concepts that are sometimes taken to be synonymous with it or are deemed to offer a better alternative, like preference, interest, capability etc.
Participants will have the chance to discuss with their colleagues a first version of their final paper in a seminar to be held in the last two weeks of the course.

Semester: ST 2024