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The puzzles and paradoxes of human need: an introduction

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Purpose ‐ It is difficult to get an adequate account of human needs but there are known needs which, for hundreds of millions of people, are not met. Can the present economic system meet them? Can any economic system meet them? Is simple economic growth the answer? The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the questions, emphasizing the problems and paradoxes. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper looks at India where poverty is rampant despite recent gains, and at Bhutan which ranks low in economic production but quite high on the "happiness scales". It also looks at questions of the relation of economic inequality to social problems, citing recent studies. Findings ‐ The paper focuses on how well the world's economic systems address, or fail to address, human needs. Originality/value ‐ This paper is written by a philosopher and writer on social economics (and Editor of International Journal of Social Economics (IJSE?)) who works in a variety of fields: metaphysics and its epistemological relations, the theory of the history of philosophy (focusing on the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries), and moral, social, and economic philosophy and their relations to culture and religion. The paper then introduces the papers in this special issue of the IJSE devoted to human needs.
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Keywords: Bhutan; Equal opportunities; India; Poverty; Social economics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 15, 2011

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