Even if we assume that there is general agreement within a society that priority should be given to the optimisation of need satisfaction, we are not yet out of the relativist wood. There may be little consensus over which strategies best achieve this goal and/or, whether or not it can be reconciled with other aims and beliefs. Human history has created so many different patterns of production, reproduction, communication and government that views on appropriate social arrangements will often be disputed, even when final goals are agreed. On the one hand, we must judge what optimisation entails in terms of those real choices which the broad span of contemporary theoretical and practical understanding makes possible. Hegel is at least right to the extent that the Owl of Minerva must consistently look back as she tries also to fly forward! On the other hand, however, there may be fundamental disagreements about what such choices entail in practice — about what specifically should be done to achieve the aims which they embody. This may be the case, for three reasons.
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