I've just posted a draft paper on how people think about meeting needs co-written with Nathan Lubchenco on my website here: How People Think About Meeting Need. Comments would be lovely.
The abstract is below:
This paper tries to determine how people think about meeting needs in a way that can inform both theory and practice. It uses data gathered from Kiva, an online, non-profit, organization that allows individuals to help other individuals in need to isolate intuitions that people find broadly compelling. The central result of the paper is that people accept a sufficiency principle for distributing limited resources to people in need. A sufficiency principle of distribution holds that it is better to help those below some (e.g. welfare,) threshold than those above this threshold. This paper’s results may be useful for engaging with and evaluating philosophical theories about how people think about meeting needs. Additionally, this paper’s methodology may have advantages over the survey techniques of traditional experimental philosophy, or at least encourage methodological reflection over the range of options available.