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close this bookDimensions of Human Development - Research Report on Basic Human Needs Lists (Individual Contributor S. Alkire)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentMethods for arbitrating disputes
View the documentCriteria for dimensions of human development (85)
View the documentOther lists: the four arguments demonstrated
View the documentConclusion


The second part of this paper will address itself to the remaining task, which is furthering the ongoing discussion of the content of the dimensions of development. It will do so very simply, by considering a pool of possible candidates drawn from lists which have arisen in recent literature, and assessing where they fit.

We shall consider the lists of: John Finnis (1987), Johan Galtung (1994) Manfred Max-Neef (1989), Martha Nussbaum (1995), Mozaffar Qizilbash (1996), and Frances Stewart (1985). Afterwards, we shall briefly then consider a spreadsheet of 20 other lists.

This paper stated in the outset that, although there is no dearth of 'lists' of well-being/ values/ human needs, it is certainly the case that the authors have developed their lists in response to different questions, and that the items on the lists represent different philosophical kinds of things. It would not be adequate simply to sort the lexical word-items into categories, then, because such an exercise, apart from being impossible because the same words are differently defined in different lists, would misrepresent the underlying project of each author. Thus I begin by introducing briefly each author whose list is to be considered, and sketching, with unfortunate brevity, how the list has arisen in their own work. The relationship between their work and the dimensions set forward in Part I of this paper is elaborated individually for each author.

Martha Nussbaum, has developed an eloquent, forceful, broadly aristotelian account of a 'normative human life' and the political obligations which arise from it. (53) Her work began with the express intention of specifying the 'basic' functionings and capabilities of Amartya Sen's capabilities approach. She suggests that such a list of basic capabilities (meaning basic in the way we described) could generate an 'open-ended, tentative' international working consensus on 'what it means to be human and live well,' (54) which would thus provide the foundation of a global ethic. (55) Her project is philosophical and practical. In particular, her global ethic is geared to the political nation-state, in that she is looking to specify a list of capabilities with reference to which political constitutions could be drafted or amended enforced and improved, and a list which may facilitate increased awareness and discussion within other societies of issues such as women's capabilities.

Nussbaum's list differs from the dimensions of human development in being much more specific. For Finnis or for Griffin, a one-word or one-phrase description of the elements is actually sufficient - because persons 'supply the rest' from their own experience and discussion. In contrast, to understand Nussbaum's categories one must really read her definitions of them, and understand not only the goods themselves but also the nature of the state which would protect these goods. In the discussion which follows I have referred to Nussbaum's list by the 'titles' she uses, but also discussed the fact that under each title there are lists of descriptive which include political liberties (which are institutional or legal means to facilitating the concerned element), instrumental or operational interpretations (basic education, the right to sexual preference) as well as 'values' of the wider kind which are susceptible to diverse local interpretations (see below).

Nussbaum: 'Central Human Capabilities' (56) 1. Life. Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length; not dying prematurely, or before one's life is so reduced as to be not worth living. 2. Bodily Health and Integrity. Being able to have good health; to be adequately nourished; to have shelter; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction; being able to move from place to place; being secure against violent assault, including sexual assault, marital rape and domestic violence. 3. Pleasure and Pain. Being able to avoid unnecessary and nonbeneficial pain, so far as possible, and to have pleasurable experiences. 4. Senses, Imagination, Thought. Being able to use the senses; being able to imagine, to think, and to reason-and to do these things in a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education, including, but by no means limited to, literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training. Being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing and producing spiritually enriching materials and events of one's own choice (religious, literary, musical and so forth). Being able to use one's mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech, and freedom of religious exercise. 5. Emotions. Being able to have attachments to things and persons outside ourselves; to love those who love and care for us, to grieve at their absence; in general, to love, to grieve, to experience longing and gratitude, and justified anger. Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development 6. Practical Reason. Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one's own life. This includes, today, being able to seek employment outside the home (in a regime protecting the free choice of occupation) and to participate in political life. 7. Affiliation. Being able to live for and to others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; to be able to imagine the situation of another and to have compassion for that situation; to have the capability for both justice and friendship. Protecting this capability means, once again, protecting institutions that constitute such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedoms of assembly and political speech. 8. Other Species. Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature. 9. Play. Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities. 10. Separateness. Being able to live one's own life and nobody else's. This means having certain guarantees of noninterference with certain choices that are especially personal and definitive of selfhood, such as choices regarding marriage, childbearing, sexual expression, speech, and employment.

The project of this paper keeps to one side (for the time being) the elements of Nussbaum's proposed political/legal project (which may or may not be the uniquely best possible institutional mechanism for facilitating the functionings of interest). It also does not include the directly operational interpretations of probably necessary means (such as universal basic education, or universal access to sanitation facilities) to achieve the valued ends.

The reason, again, for separating the consensus on values from the discussions of programmatic and political responses, is that there are likely to be two kinds of arguments:
1) what the ends a community is to pursue are and
2) what are the best institutional mechanisms or processes for sequencing and implementing measures to pursue the selected goals.
There seems to be a value in each community discussing these two things separately.

Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean professor and activist, has, together with his associates, used a matrix of human needs in participatory exercises. The exercises involve groups of 10 individuals, who gather for one intense day, to sit together and discuss the needs and 'satisfiers' that have constructive or destructive effects on their 'being, having, doing and interacting.' Their discussion is provoked by the task of reflecting on the following classification of human needs (or, we might say, dimensions of human development): subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom (for a sheet of each author's 'list' see further).

Max-Neef describes five criteria he has used in constructing this classification of human needs such that it would be of use to a community which wishes to reflect on and interpret its own situation holistically. They are as follows 1. The classification must be understandable; the needs listed must be readily recognizable and identifiable as one's own 2. The classification must combine scope with specificity; it must arrive at a limited number of needs which can be clearly yet simply labelled but, at the same time, be comprehensive enough to incorporate any fundamental felt need 3. The classification must be operational; for every existing or conceivable satisfier57 one or more of the needs stated must appear as a target-need of the satisfier [in other words, any action or organisation can be understood by reference to the needs as 'reasons for action.'] 4. The classification must be critical; it is not sufficient for the categorization to relate satisfiers to needs. It is essential to detect needs for which no desirable satisfier exists. Also, it is crucial to identify and restrain those satisfiers which inhibit the actualization of needs. 5. The classfication must be propositional; to the extent that it is critical and capable of detecting inadequacies in the relation between the existing satisfiers and the fulfilment of needs, this classification should serve as a trigger mechanism to work out an alternative order capable of generating and encouraging satisfiers for the needs of every man and woman as integral beings. (58)

Frances Stewart, one of the founders of the basic human needs approach to development, clearly distinguished the wider categories of human ends which pertain to a 'full life' from those prerequisites of a minimally decent life which comprise 'basic needs,' and suggested that the commodities which meet basic needs be related to the 'full life' through a meta-production function.

The philosophical approach which is implicit in her writing is that

a) both the 'basic needs' and some aspects of a 'full life' for humans are shared across cultures and classes
b) all of these would need to be specified according to the local or national context (different 'bundles' of goods will facilitate the same broad objective in different situations (59)
c) the 'basic needs' are dependent upon material resources hence they will require 'operationalisation' though political and economic action in order to be met
d) the meeting of 'basic needs' is one goal amongst others; the weighting of this set of goals versus other goals which relate to other aspects of the full life has to be done by a political process (60)
e) the practical establishment of relationships between projects and ends is messy. (61)

It is possible to interpret Stewart's work as substantively similar to the conception of dimensions of development sketched above. Actual preferences definitely play a role in Stewart's identification of elements of 'the full life' (62) but this does not mean that her list is founded upon the desire account alone - 'participation' and commitment are required in the choice, weighting and ranking of the elements. It would certainly be consonant with her approach to understand it as a list of intrinsically vague but valued 'ends' (63) which cannot be collapsed into each other thus are in this sense incommensurable. This interpretation, taken together with the emphasis Stewart places on participation and political discussion to weight and rank the different elements of 'full life' relative to each other64 and her studied omission of rigid definitions of each element, suggests that her list is a set of 'vague' ends which are to be specified locally, hence represents broadly the same kind of list as the 'dimensions' described earlier.

Qizilbash has introduced the recent work of James Griffin on prudential values into development ethics, to propose a list of prudential values, comprising 'everything that makes a person's life go better.' (65) There are two kinds of prudential values: 'core' values which are recognised by everyone, and non-core values which 'may play a part in some people's lives but not in others' but which are 'generally recognised as prudentially valuable.' (66) Qizilbash argues that this approach nets a 'consensual' 'culturally non-relative' account of human development which is open to different cultural specifications. It is consensual because each value "is a candidate for prudential value...for any human being, in any culture, with any personal conception of the good or any plan of life.' (67) It is culturally non-relative, being applicable for rich as well as poor countries, and applicable to countries with different moral values. Qizilbash's particular list of 9 values contains instrumental and intrinsically valuable goods and development involves 'having more of the elements of prudential value.'

The distinction between Qizilbash's and Griffin's prudential values - what the elements on their lists are supposed to capture - and the dimensions of human development sketched above is marginal. The distinction rests mostly on the identified elements of prudential value, rather than the substantive significance of these elements. One distinction which is slightly more foundational is that the 'list' of Qizilbash (rather than Griffin, whose approach he develops) includes allegedly 'instrumental' elements such as hygiene, which are not and need not be, in his account, 'reasons for action' as described above. Still, they could be re-configured with respect to the 'prudential values' or 'dimensions of human development' which are pursued in the pursuit of hygiene by considering again the answer to the question, 'why do I pursue hygiene' (if this is a most basic reason - it is good to be clean - then indeed hygiene is an intrinsically rather than instrumentally valuable element of well-being).

Doyal and Gough, in A Theory of Need have proposed to develop a concept of need which is grounded both philosophically (68) and with respect to the indicator debates and other debates in the social sciences. Their theory defines universal needs as "preconditions for social participation which apply to everyone in the same way" (69). and concludes "that universal needs exist, that sets of basic and intermediate needs can be identified and that degrees of need satisfaction can be charted..." (70) In particular, they identify exactly two universal 'basic needs' - physical health and autonomy. Physical Health is conceived "as [physical survival and] the absence of specific diseases, where disease is defined according to the biomedical model". Autonomy of agency is defined as "the capacity to initiate an action through the formulation of aims and beliefs" and requires "mental health, cognitive skills and opportunities to engage in social participation." Each of these three sub-components is further defined.

These needs are distinct from the definitions of 'dimensions' given earlier in this paper in two interesting ways. First Doyal and Gough are deliberately limiting their scope to preconditions of well-being, not well-being itself. Their project, then, is being fundamentally different than the current one, never has had any intention of identifying the full range of relevant areas of well-being. Their approach is nonetheless included in this paper as a representative of the kinds of 'basic' concerns which many others similarly put forward.(71)

A second difference of this approach is that basic needs are defined such that their fulfilment is normative. While Doyal and Gough would say that the 'satisfiers' of these needs may vary widely, these needs themselves can be specified once and for all (a need to be without cholera), without consultation of the related population. Furthermore, because these needs are established as 'pre-conditions' of a fulfilled life, there is a normative duty, they argue, always to fulfil them. This approach differs from the approach of 'dimensions' specified earlier, which simply does not specify needs (although this process of identifying and specifying basic urgent needs would be a necessary intermediate stage in the operationalisation of the dimensions account although this could be done at the most local level possible - not necessarily because the 'answers' would differ vastly - even if they did not there would be some value in this because, on all accounts, it is the satisfiers which cause all of the disillusionment).

John Finnis together with several colleagues has, over the past thirty years, developed and applied an Aristotelian approach (72) to the pursuit of human flourishing by people and institutions (the institution of law in particular) which is based on practical reason. His work is of particular relevance to development ethics because it is well-developed, operational, and plural, and it was his work which has greatly informed our description of 'dimensions' in Part I of this paper. (73) The list discussed below represents one of a series of proposed lists which he and his colleagues have generated, and its elements are of the nature described above as 'dimensions of human development.'

Johan Galtung, who writes on peace research and self-reliance, has produced and developed a list of human needs which are formulated "in rather a general manner." (74) The book from which this list is taken, Human Rights in Another Key, deliberately addresses the question of how western human rights appear to other cultures, and which human needs correspond to human rights. The book expresses concern about the unique formal institutionalisation of human rights, and of the duty to provide for basic needs in centralised authorities/assemblies, and advocates in addition to this, the discussion and enforcement of these needs and rights in civil-society (he calls these latter channels of human rights 'beta channels' which are decentralised, horizontal, female and relational). Galtung emphasises that the 'beta' channels are better at creating and maintaining 'identity' rather than alienation although they are also 'vulnerable to evil actors'. (75) This suggests that his arrangement shares with the dimensions described above the recognition that the ongoing articulation and specification of the dimensions and needs into a local setting is central to the creation of social character and identity.

He describes his particular list of human needs as "the result of much trial and error, confrontations with literature and dialogues with other researchers and, above all, with other people than researchers, etc." (76) The list has 30 elements, and is presented as a bulleted list with no further definitions of any item being present in the text. While recognising that needs usually 'require social arrangements for their satisfaction, he locates human needs 'in single individuals' alone. (77) He describes the list as "a working hypothesis" and adds the comment (which we would share) that "it is tested by being used." The criteria of a satisfactory list would be if it were fruitful, if it served "to identify problems already known to be important" and if it were able "to guide us further in understanding problems that may become important one day but have not yet crystallized sufficiently."

Galtung's list is at once rather broad and yet specific: items are needs certainly of some people - ie this is surely a list (though not exhaustive) of candidate needs - but not necessarily of equal breadth (ie the need 'for protection against diseases' vis a vis the need 'for understanding social forces' or 'for social transparency': the latter, to my ears, sound far narrower). At the same time by leaving them so brief, Galtung appeals to the reader to engage her own values and experiences to define or even understand the 'needs'. In other words, in Galtung's own understanding, his list is a tool rather than a theory: it is valid insofaras it is useful as a springboard for reflection.

Max-Neef, Nussbaum, Qizilbash (and Griffin (78), Finnis, and perhaps in a weaker way Galtung and Stewart share one characteristic of their lists. This is what I will call the claim to completeness: that anything which is basic to human flourishing should be able to be expressed (classified) vis a vis the values/elements of their list. I say 'should be able to' because these authors would not necessarily claim that their array 'certainly' has this status in its present form. However it is of greater interest to compare their lists and reflect on the differences knowing that each have been drafted with this common goal.

They share one further characteristic which is that each list is, to borrow Rawls' term, vague. To some extent (not necessarily completely) each bases his or her work (explicitly in the case of Qizilbash/Griffin, Nussbaum and Finnis; implicitly for Galtung, Stewart and Max-Neef) on the exercise of 'practical reason' by individuals and communities. A full definition of how a community or individual understands and appropriates the different dimensions of human flourishing requires the specification exercise to be completed at the local level. The authors' understanding of the extent to which this is necessary varies radically (Nussbaum seeming to need the least) but it is never non-present.

The list of 'basic needs' specified by Doyal and Gough represent the other kind of an approach: an approach in which each element is defined theoretically/scientifically and in which all elements taken together are intended to be only the preconditions of human flourishing.

The following discussion refers to Table 1.

It is immediately apparent (and hardly surprising) that all lists share some concern for physical life and for education; it is also apparent that other items come and go from different lists. The pertinent question at this point is whether or not there will be a reasoned way to consolidate these different suggestions about the 'dimensions of human development' into a simple array or whether they will seem to augur for different lists. (79)

Methods for arbitrating disputes

Earlier we noted Sen's reservations against the specification of basic capabilities were that such a list might be i) overspecified, ii) irrelevant, iii) overly normative or iv) pertaining to exactly one metaphysical outlook, and suggested that the conception of 'dimensions' of values might be a way forward. (80) In simple terms, this account addresses the problem of irrelevance by establishing those dimensions on the basis of practical reason-dimensions which persons recognise they or others already are using as reasons for action, (to which I would wish to add, by field-testing the list among different communities). This account addresses the problem of overspecification by calling these dimensions, rather than needs or virtues or capabilities, because they represent the most basic reasons for action which are irreducibly distinct. This account addresses the normativity question by suggesting these dimensions to be reasons for action which pertain to moral and immoral actions alike; hence their description alone does not support any moral conclusions regarding trade-offs. (81) The 'metaphysical' question stands; the identification of basic reasons for action which are valid cross-culturally commits one to a broadly realist ethic (in line with the capabilities approach), although not to a single metaphysics.

How, though, are we to proceed in discussing these different lists? This activity is certainly not without precedent, even recent precedent. Braybrooke has done a similar exercise using four lists of course-of-life [basic] needs [Brewnowski, Ernest Mandel, Nestor Terleckyj, and the OECD], and sought a synthesis based on three critera: 1) convergence, 2) redundancy, and 3) as much completeness as attainable. Note that he considered his exercise illustrative not definitive: 'It will not be part of my perfect this list.' (82)

Another similar exercise in 'list consolidation' was done by Maureen Ramsay. She studied the psychological needs identified by 10 authors [Bretano, Maslow, Fromm, Nielsen, Lane, Davies, Packard, Galtung, Mallman, and Krech Crutchfield and Livson, and classified their lists into six categories of needs:
physical survival, sexual needs, security, love and relatedness, esteem and identity, self-realisation
based on evidence, rather than reasoned argument. (83)

A similar classification exercise of empirical data from 32 studies of Quality of Life (only 32 of 1500 articles surveyed had sufficient data) was done by Robert Cummins 1996, who synthesised 68% of the 173 domains from the studies into 7 headings: [material well-being, health, productivity, intimacy/friendship, safety, community, and emotional well-being]. (84)

However, the act of 'classification' is distinct from an argued synthesis. The task which this paper sets out is not simply to study the various lists and note convergences and redundancies; rather, it is to ask a slightly different question which is, 'what array of elements would adequately represent the dimensions of human flourishing as they were articulated earlier (in a way which is broadly shared by Qizilbash/ Griffin, Finnis, and Max-Neef)?' A simple classification would not do justice to the fact that the different authors do have projects and conceptions of their own lists which differ from the current one, and that some sorting out is required; furthermore, classifications tend to be more arbitrary than is imagined (as the following discussion will make clear). Therefore rather than 'classifying' these different lists, the synthesis will emerge on the basis of reasoned scrutiny. In particular, the following criteria will be employed:

Criteria for dimensions of human development (85)

1. the dimensions must be based in practical reason - in other words, they "must be readily recognizable and identifiable as one's own" (86) or as relevant to others even if one does not oneself pursue or value them.

2. the dimensions must be intrinsically rather than only instrumentally valuable - basic dimensions are reasons for action which need no further reason; which are intrinsically valuable ('only' is an important qualification because some basic items - like life or knowledge - will also have an instrumental dimension). The specification of 'satisfiers' (or of rights or of liberties) is integral to the pursuit of some dimensions, but not to their identification.

3. the dimension must be irreducible - that is, it must not be a subset of some other valuable and basic reason for acting, but must be the simplest possible reason for acting.

4. the dimension must represent complete reasons for acting - that is, it cannot be a basic motive (pleasure, pain) which is valuable or intelligible only when its pursuit coheres with the pursuit of a valuable reason.

5. the dimension are not yet moral: dimensions of human flourishing represent the basic values people are seeking when they 'be and do and have and interact' intelligibly - whether morally or immorally. They are neither virtues nor personal qualities (gentleness, self-respect, trust). (87)

If the proposed element is neither a means to nor a subset of another dimension, and if it is intelligibly a basic reason for acting, then it will be taken to represent a dimension of human flourishing.

These four kinds of evaluation will become clearer in the following section when we use them to deliberate the different well-being lists which have come up. There are three preliminary points.

I suggest it does not matter whether an element 'was' in a historical sense, 'generated' by practical reason if and only if reflection on that element can lead one to recognise (by practical reason) it as a valuable reason for action. To use again Max-Neef's words, they "must be readily recognizable and identifiable as one's own." (88) In accord with this, I have reprinted the lists in their simplest form, and not included lengthy descriptions of the elements. The array of dimensions which results from this discussion will, I hope, be the subject of a deeper scrutiny by various communities and authors at various times.

I will prefer the term 'array of dimensions' rather than 'list of needs/values...'. The reason for this is to emphasise the unspecified or generic aspect of this list. If an item on my shopping list is 'carrots' it is quite easy for me to go out and buy carrots because I know what they are. While this is desirable in terms of household efficiency, it is not desirable, as the unsuccessful Basic Material Needs approach illustrates, in terms of human development, because while we may know the dimensions in which an answer will be expressed - the axis in which a picture will be drawn -- the particular group's answer depends on their own choices and commitments. In other words, the word 'dimension' should serve as a reminder to figure out how each community conceives its needs. Therefore rather than conceiving of a 'list' of 'components' of human flourishing which can be spoken from an archemedean viewpoint, I propose a array of dimensions, in reference to which any community might describe their objective of human development.

Other lists: the four arguments demonstrated

The next four subsections actively exercise the four kinds of dialectical evaluation on the set of lists presented in the table. They should be seen as illustrative only - the authors' definitions of their items is in some cases broader than it has been possible, in this brief space, to acknowledge, but the main points are considered. The goal of this section is to allow a 'synthesis' of dimensions to emerge, on the basis of reasoned argument. Although one simply survey the array of candidates and marking 'emergent' categories, this procedure is open to criticism that different eyes mark different patterns. Thus it will be easiest to begin by taking one list as a 'base' and modifying it by reference to the others. Any list could be chosen; I will use the Max-Neef's list: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom, and dialectically evaluate other lists as possible extensions to/modifications of, it. (89) The preliminary question is whether the desirability of these categories are recognisable by 'practical reason' - by consideration of the simplest goals one was aiming at in one's own past actions, and it seems to me - and more importantly has seemed to a significant number of communities in which these categories have provoked participatory discussions (hence my choice of Max-Neef), that they are. (90)


The first question is which items are actually means to human ends. This is the familiar criticism which Sen raises against Rawls' focus on primary goods. Rawlsian Basic Needs programmes focus on the provision of levels of commodities which are sufficient for a minimally decent life; however Sen argues that the intent of these initiatives really is for persons to enjoy a minimally decent life (to enjoy certain functionings) and so, because of interpersonal variation in converting commodities into functionings, this would be more accurately expressed by the goal of equality in basic functionings.

There is considerable overlap around needs pertaining to what Max-Neef calls subsistence: life (Finnis), 'survival and health' (Doyal and Gough), 'Survival and Well-being needs' (Galtung), 'health and nutrition' (Stewart) 'Mortality and human body - hunger/thirst/shelter/sexual desire/mobility' (Nusssbaum) and 'health, nutrition, sanitation, rest, shelter, security' (Qizilbash). Of these a fair number seem to be 'instrumental' to something which is intrinsically valuable: Galtung /Stewart /Qizilbash's nutrition (by which I understand nutritive foods or the state of being well-nourished), Galtung's water, air, excretion, sleep, sex, protection against climate, Qizilbash's sanitation, rest, shelter, (91) Doyal and Gough's survival and reproduction Nussbaum's mortality, hunger, thirst, shelter, sex, early infant development. These categories seem either instrumental to life or specifications of it, in the sense of subsistence (and, included in this, subsistence of the human species, or procreation) although (like all satisfiers) they may be instrumental to other dimensions as well. Nussbaum's mobility and early infant development and Galtung's movement and Qizilbash's basic physical capacities likewise seem instrumental to survival, but also to other aspects such as participation.

Health (Stewart, Qizilbash, Doyal and Gough - including mental health - Galtung's protection against diseases) might be instrumental to subsistence, but as the case is not so clear, we will discuss later whether health is a subset of subsistence/life/procreation, or is a distinct reason for action.

Max-Neef's second reason of 'protection' seems to be the end to which Galtung's survival needs - to avoid individual and collective violence - and Qizilbash's 'security' - are instrumental. Nussbaum's separateness is a rather tricky category to place, and might be instrumental to protection/security, but is instrumental to identity in some contexts.

Literacy (Stewart, Qizilbash) likewise seems in part valued for its contribution to health/survival, and in part for its contribution to 'understanding'. Education (Stewart, Galtung), Galtung's choice in receiving/expressing information and opinion, Nussbaum's cognitive capability, Qizilbash's basic intellectual capacities and Doyal and Gough's ability to reason seem instrumental to a number of ends, including understanding, participation, identity, and creation.

Finally, in the more social sphere, Galtung's understanding social forces and social transparency seem instrumental to participation.

All of these very familiar foci of development seem to be instrumental to some dimension of human life, rather themselves comprising such a dimension.

Additionally, many of the items on Nussbaum's list (Appendix II) are accompanied by specific political obligations for the pursuit of that capability. I would suggest that such rights and strategies are satisfiers: they are valuable insofar as they conduce to the pursuit of the basic capability with which they are associated in the relevant historical context but are not (obviously) basic reasons for action.

It is important to acknowledge two ways in which the distinction between an ends and means clouds over. First, some proposed 'dimensions of human development' are very clearly themselves means to others. For example, subsistence is evidently a 'prerequisite' to 'creation' and some kind of understanding is evidently instrumental to participation. However, subsistence and understanding are still identified as irreducible reasons for acting because their value cannot be reduced merely to means - there is some remainder, something intrinsically valuable about being healthy, for example. On the other hand, the instrumental dimensions identified above are recognised as valuable likewise because through these people do participate in intrinsically valuable basic goods (there is something intrinsically good about being nourished). The distinction is that if the person were asked yet again, why are you doing X they might be able to come up with a simpler 'more basic' or more generic description of their reason.

If the items which remain for our consideration are themselves inherently worthwhile, a second question is whether the good which is identified is possibly not the simplest or most basic such reason; whether it is rather part of another dimension or dimensions. In this section we will suggest consolidations, and at the same time notice where author's different words create space for the same dimension.

In the examples we have just been discussing 'health' 'subsistence' 'reproduction' and 'protection' might conceivably be subsets of the same dimension. There is a real distinction between the kind of 'goodness' associated with being healthy, from that of being nourished, from that of being safe, from that of reproduction. But the question is whether the simplest reasons are inherently of a different kind or whether it would make some sense to describe them as different component aspects of several basic dimensions, among which is 'physical life.' A case has been made that health is a distinct category. (92) Yet it does seem at least arguable that health, security, and nutrition/physical energy are all component aspects of physical life, that one simplest reason one goes to the doctor is to enjoy a full physical life rather than to enjoy health; one simplest reason a mother feeds her children well is that they may enjoy a full physical life not just be nourished; one (of several) simplest reason for conceiving a child is to create another life; one simplest reason for avoiding violence is to remain bodily intact; so I would propose that these simply be understood as 'component' aspects of physical life rather than as utterly different dimensions of human life, but it may be an issue worth considering further - especially because the specification of basic needs will mostly deal with items in this dimension.

Where else is consolidation possible? Max-Neef describes 'creation' and Finnis describes 'some degree of excellence in work and play' as a basic reason for action, by which is meant some artful self-actuating use of skills. This is Stewart's good of 'work', and Doyal and Gough's of production. Galtung's cluster of 'creativity, praxis, work' and 'protection against heavy degrading boring work,' and 'self-expression' also would be parts of this same dimension.

A similar dimension is expressed by Max-Neef's 'affection' Finnis' 'friendship' Nussbaum's 'affiliation with other humans', Qizilbash's 'significant relations with others...' Galtung's description of 'affection, love, sex; friends, offspring, and spouse' might all be thought of as subsets of a dimension. On the other hand, as Galtung's list brings out, this dimension would include i) spouses, and ii) friends/children, and there might be arguments for keep these distinct. (93) However for the time being I will suggest the category 'friendship' to include both of these.

A different dimension seems to form about Max-Neef and Stewart's leisure, Finnis' play and Nussbaum's humor and play. It might be that by 'leisure' Max-Neef and Stewart mean rest/idleness, in which case this might be seen as instrumental to a number of values such as life, identity or even creation. But it might be that they mean or excellence in singing or playing cricket or telling jokes. Or both. However, given the way we have defined work - which is in its creative rather than instrumentally productive sense - it might be that the 'value' of work and some forms of play are the same in their creative sense (the transformation of self and world to express meanings, create value and serve purposes with some degree of excellence (94)), hence may be considered as one kind of reason for action. In the sense in which work is self-expression it might also encompass Stewart's element of communication.

However, there is a significant residual element, which is raised by Stewart's cultural life and Finnis appreciation of beauty.' (95) The appreciation of beauty, and the ability to live in or travel to aesthetically pleasing environs and to appreciate dance/music/ painting/architecture do seem distinctive values from the productivity associated with work and creation. They are more passive, contemplative, expressive and responsive, rather than transformative (which is the sense of Finnis' grouping of aesthetic appreciation together with the similarly receptive value of gaining knowledge). (96) Therefore I would tentatively propose this to be a separate dimension.

The category of identity for Max-Neef seems roughly parallel to Finnis' self-integration, Galtung's being active subject and Qizilbash's self-determination.

At this point things become more complex. Max-Neef's categories participation and freedom seem to relate to Stewart's democratic rights, communication and participation, Galtung's roots, belongingness, networks, support, esteem, and dialogue, Nussbaum's practical reason, Finnis' coherent self-determination or practical reason, and Doyal and Gough's cultural transmission and political authority. However these seem to be a tangle of 'reasons for action,' which will be easier to sort out after the further steps of the analysis take place.

At this point we have noted general recognition of the following as dimensions of well-being:
Physical life - health, reproduction, protection, subsistence, Understanding, Friendship, Creation including creative and restorative times of leisure, Identity, Participation, Beauty (?). It is now time to ask if this list should be expanded, or if, rather, there are items on other lists which are not basic.


The third possibility is that some items may be valuable only when undertaken in conjunction with a valuable proposal. That is, although they are intrinsically valuable, they are not complete reasons for action. Nussbaum's listing of pleasurable experiences as a basic capability, Qizilbash's, of enjoyment, Galtung's, of happiness, joy are susceptible to scrutiny on this ground. Although many persons, when asked why they do x, would reply 'because it's fun' or 'I enjoy it' this is not necessarily the most direct explanation they could give (every one word reason isn't basic). If pressed: but why do you enjoy fishing, they might explain "because I can be still and alone" [identity] or "because I like to be outdoors" [aesthetics/environment] - in other words, give a reason which is equally simple and more specific, (97) and one that endures. It would seem that pleasurable experiences come in diverse forms which are integral to, that is inseparable from or supervenient upon, the various pursuits of other dimensions. So, for example, a person with an integrated identity may have a pleasurable experience of tranquillity, which is a very different pleasure from the delightful smells and tastes integral to the pursuit of excellence in cooking. The form of pleasurable experience which is not integral to the pursuit of any dimension of human flourishing is the pursuit of pleasurable experiences for their own sake. There are long-standing theoretical arguments against such activities being permanent dimensions of human flourishing (98). An additional objection is that the pursuit of physical pleasure per se involves someone treating a part of him/herself as instrumental, which is competitive with the good of self-integration, because rather than bringing the different dimensions into a harmonious unity, it emphasises the distinction between the bodily and the existential dimensions of human being. (99)

Max-Neef's unspecified category 'freedom', Qizilbash's autonomy, and negative freedom or liberty, are also susceptible to scrutiny along a similar line. Robert George (100) argues that autonomy (freedom/liberty/agency) is best characterised as an integral part of the item of coherent self-determination. By integral he means inwardly connected in such a way that freedom cannot be thought of as valuable in isolation from the participation in the dimensions of human flourishing which it accompanies. (101) In other respects, autonomy/freedom will be instrumentally valuable for the pursuit of other basic items. In Finnis' account a community's free choice will, other things being equal, always be better than a coerced choice, for it will be a self-constituting choice and thus realise valuable dimensions of human flourishing (e.g. friendship) to an extent that coerced choice will not. This being said, personal freedom could also be seen, in terms of the previous section as a part of the category of 'practical reasonableness' which Finnis describes as "the harmony between one's feelings and one's judgments (inner integrity) and between one's judgements and one's behaviour (authenticity)," [at individual or group level]. This is most clearly seen negatively: if one is not able to behave in the way that one feels and judges to be valuable because of negative or positive coercion, one would not participate in practical reason. Again, if a community resists an oppressive regime, their action could be intelligible in terms of practical reasons, in this case understood, in Christian Bay's words, to be a "sense of efficacy or power to influence the course of one's life." (102)

What about Galtung's self-actuation, realising potentials, well-being, a sense of purpose of meaning or Qizilbash's category, 'accomplishment' (again, a category which has a wide currency among behaviorists - the need for achievement, for self-actualisation etc). At first glance it might seem that these comprise 'creation', and also 'identity'. But on further reflection accomplishment for other persons might embrace knowledge, or friendship or physical life. And yet all of these dimensions do not seem to be collapsible into one category of 'accomplishment'; rather, like human fulfilment these seem to be more generalized terms that accrue to persons insofar as they participate reflectively in valuable functionings.

Thus as a result of the third kind of evaluation we have identified liberty pleasure and accomplishment as kinds of good which are valuable insofaras they accompany otherwise valuable reasons for acting, but are not themselves distinctive dimensions of human action.

None of the lists consider aspects of human well-being to be personal qualities (virtues) such as courage, reliability, or wisdom. However, the most significant recent cross-cultural research on human values has conceptualised and empirically tested for 'universal values' of this type. (103) While Finnis has cross-referenced his dimensions with anthropological studies, (104) he has not engaged with these recent empirical studies. Given the framework set out in this chapter, it would evidently be desirable for further 'surveys' to consider the question of universal values by inquiring into the dimensions of human value per se. (105)

There are three kinds of needs/functionings which did not prove to be instrumental to, nor subsets of, nor supervenient upon, Max-Neef's categories, nor were they personal qualities.

The first has been mentioned and introduced above, and is appreciation of beauty.

The second residual category is Finnis' religion, or harmony with some greater-than-human source of meaning and value (106) and Galtung's closeness to the transcendental, transpersonal. Both practical reasoning and sociological/anthropological evidence support this category of human good, (107) hence it is certainly a candidate as a dimension of human flourishing. Max-Neef does not have such a category. However, as it turns out this is not because he does not consider it valuable but rather because, in his understanding, humanity has not yet evolved to the state where the need for 'transcendence' (his term) is universal. Its exclusion is more deliberate in Nussbaum's aristotelianism for several reasons, (108) although, in light of her concerns it is worth mentioning that Finnis' or Galtung's placement of 'religion' or the draw of transcendent among non-hierarchical dimensions of human flourishing represents a radical departure from Aristotle and aristotelianism which might satisfy her concerns. (109) I would therefore propose this as a distinct 'basic reason' for human action, and [non-hierarchical] dimension of human development.

The third 'left-over' category is Galtung's partnership with nature, and Nussbaum's 'relatedness to other species and to nature.' This would seem to refer to the intrinsic value of being able to enjoy the natural world - places, animals, vegetation, ecosystems. (110) Part of the value of harmony with the non-human environment is aesthetic, for example the beauty of the prairies, or of a gazelle running. Part of the value of the environment to people is that it provides life - nourishment and security - and also is instrumental in many cases to work and leisure. Part of the value of animals is instrumental (if they are for food or work or security) and also one's relationship to domestic animals partakes in a limited way of the value of 'friendship'. Part of being at harmony with nature is very much like being at harmony with a greater than human source of meaning and value - and indeed Finnis earlier described this dimension as harmony between oneself and the wider reaches of reality. (111) I would propose harmony with the natural world as a dimension of human flourishing. There are dimensions for other elements of human relatedness - ie harmony between all the dimensions within the self, with other people, with God - but not as yet with the natural world. To deny our relatedness to the environment as a fundamental aspect of human existence seems to be very questionable. It would be the only fundamental feature of human relatedness which did not have a correlative dimension of human flourishing. (112)

It may be worth noting that these three proposed dimensions - beauty, religion, the environment - have all also been identified by anthropologists. (113)


The above discussion, and the identification of dimensions of human development, most instantiations of which are not the obligations of economic producers, is valuable in clearing the ground and discussion of all of the possible angles of discussion on human development, and on the respective roles of the market and political and institutional systems in promoting it. (114) But I can not make strong claims for the adequacy of the array of dimensions which emerges, because there are clear weaknesses. First, I am highly aware that, Max-Neef excepted, the 'source' authors I have used are from the North (which does not necessarily disqualify their insights but does, in my opinion, mean that one must seek additional Southern perspectives, and also perspectives from different socio-economic classes in order to check whether or not they cohere, but this is a separate research project in itself). Second, I find the categorisation process indeed slightly arbitrary. There is a genuine element of ambiguity in this process which must be emphasised over and over and over again, rather than trying to destroy it with clean categories. These weaknesses, aside, it has seemed that the value of having a set of dimensions comes to life when it is used practically (Finnis, Max-Neef) and that, to quote Galtung, the array would be satisfactory if it were "fruitful," if it served "to identify problems already known to be important" and if it were able "to guide us further in understanding problems that may become important one day but have not yet crystallized sufficiently."