By Peggy Foster
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Extra info for Access to Welfare: An Introduction to Welfare Rationing
Is such adefinition possible? At a very basic level it would appear that physical harm at least is a straightforward objective concept. If a man has an accident and loses an arm or a leg there is surely no doubt that he has been harmed. Yet even at this basic level there is room for doubt since the degree of harm suffered by an individual must depend partlyon his or her perception of it. Two peop\e experiencing the same degree of physical harm may perceive that harm in very different ways. Whereas one person's life may be shattered by the amputation of a leg or an arm, another person will adopt such a positive attitude towards overcoming the same disability that the extent of the harm inflicted on them appears to be minimal.
As such they are as much concerned with bolstering up the existing economic system as with meeting the individual needs which that system creates. Consequently they make very slow progress in coping with the diswelfares of the system. The Marxist critique of capitalist society and of the role played by the statutory social services within it thus challenges the traditional view of welfare needs on two main grounds. First, it criticises those who take a narrow view of welfare needs wh ich excludes any analysis of the relationship between capitalism and the creation of needs and diswelfares.
11 The main conclusion we can draw from a brief look at the attempts of philosophers to find a universal and objective definition of need is that they have failed. Needs, at least for all practical purposes, and at least insofar as they are the concern of social policy, are relative. They change over time and vary from place to place. Moreover our definitions of need involve some form of value judgement and are therefore partly subjective. Finally we should note 24 Access to Welfare that even basic needs may conflict with one another.
Access to Welfare: An Introduction to Welfare Rationing by Peggy Foster