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prevent a person from meeting her basic needs, then she is not rationally required to do it.

This is the strong reason and needs thesis. The weak thesis implies that, in the case of the powerful urge, I have a self-grounded reason not to jump. Given the objectivity of needs thesis, I have this reason regardless of any facts about my psychology. I have this reason even if my urge is overpowering enough to cause me to lose temporarily all the desires I would otherwise have. The strong thesis implies that I am not rationally required to jump off the tower, since doing so would prevent me from meeting my basic needs. Basic needs must be distinguished from things we need only in light of other things we desire or value. For example, if I want to be studying, I need quite. Here the status of quite as something I need depends on the fact that I want to study. Needs of this sort may be called occasional needs. Basic needs are more fundamental. For example, I need food and water, shelter, the ability to move safely in my environment, health, and a sense of self-respect, among other things. These are needs I have in common with every other person. They are needs for things that are ordinarily essential to every persons good. I call needs of this sort basic needs.10 It is basic needs that enter my account of self-grounded reasons. The concept of a basic need may be controversial, but, as David Braybrooke has claimed, anyone with the concept would agree that the things I listed are matters of need.11 Of course, he points out, a needs can be met different ways, by different forms of provision, and it can be met to different degrees, even though there may be a minimum standard of provision appropriate to each person under each heading of need. For example we believe there is a need for sleep, but we are not committed to thinking that everyone needs the same amount of sleep and in the same kind of bed and so on. The minimum amount that would meet one persons need for sleep might be different from the minimum amount that would meet anothers need.12 A basic need gives rise to derivative needs for the things required in order to meet it. For example, if the ability to move safely is a basic need, and if I am trapped down a mine, then I need a flashlight and a hardhat. Because there is no presumption that everyone in the human population needs a source of artificial light, we do not classify it as a matter of basic need. But a source of artificial light is a form of provision that may be required in certain circumstances in order to meet a need. In some cases, cultural or social factors give a person certain derivative needs. For example, I need self-resfect, and in different cultures, but social acceptance is needed for a person to have a sense of self-resfect, and in different cultures, different things contribute to social acceptance. Things that are required for meeting a basic need may be called required forms of provision. The distinction between such things and matters of basic need is dependent of background

10. For the distinction between occasional and basic needs, see, for example, James Griffin (1986, p. 41). David Braybrooke calls basic needs course-of-life needs (1987, p. 29) 11. Braybrooke, 1987, p. 36. 12. Braybrooke, 1987, p. 38-47.

circumstances; if everyone were trapped in a mine, we might come to classify having a hardhat as a matter of basic need. But this does not undermine the usefulness of the distinction. When it is claimed that a person needs something, it is always appropriate to ask what she needs it for.13 A matter of occasional need, for example, is needed in order to achicve something that is desired or valued. I shall speak of the ground of a need, in referring to the thing a matter of need for. I confess ptoo strong to say that matters of need are, strictly speaking, required for their ground. For example, I need quite in order to study, but quite is not strictly indispensable to my studying. Rather, my studying will suffer substantially if I do not have quite. This seems enough to justify saying I need quite, even if there is some chance that I could manage to study without quite, as long as (it is highly likely that) my studying will be impaired without quite, I therefore suggest, as an approximation, that N is needed in order to archieve G just in case (it is highly likely that) N is necessary to prevent impairment in achieving.14 In order to understand basic needs, we need to identify the ground of the basic matters of need. If G is a ground of the basic needs, then N is a basic need just in case it is highly likely that N is necessary to prevent anyones being impaired in achieving G. There may be more than one such ground. But to suit my purposes, a ground must help to explain the connection between reason and needs. The weak reasons and needs thesis, for example, is a substantive thesis about self-grounded reasons. The very idea that something has a need does not entail that it has a reason. Plants have needs without having reason, for example. I must therefore discover a ground of the basic needs that will explain why we have a selfgrounded reason to try to secure for ourselves a minimum standard of provision of matters of basic need. This means that the ground I propose should be something that we have a self-grounded reason to try to achieve or keep, independently of our desires, preferences, or values. It is plausible to think that survival and biological flourishing are a ground of the basic needs. For example, the needs of a plant are the things it most likely requires to avoid biological impairment. However, it is not the case that everyone has a reason to secure the things needed to avoid biological impairment. Suppose, for example, that mechanical hearts became very much more reliable and that their installation became quite routine. Life with a mechanical heart would still have to be counted as biologically impaired, yet we might have no reason to prefer life with a biological heart to life with a mechanical heart. We are not entitled to presume that every person has a reason has a reason to prefer a life that is not biologically impaired. This means that even if survival and biological flour-

13. This has been said by many writers on needs. David Wiggins seems to deny it, in the case of basic needs (1987, p. 9) 14. I do not know precisely how to explain the kind of necessity involved. Perhaps the laws of nature are such that (it is highly likely that) my studying will be impaired if I do not have quite. Wiggins speaks of the needs as required, given the laws of nature, unalterable and invariable environmental facts, or facts about human constitution (1987, p. 15)