A need is a thing which is needed for an organisms survival. Needs are differentiated from wants though needs may also be defined as desires. In the case of a need there is a deficiency and in case of desire there is often an abundance. A person with the ability to do one thing but not another is not in need; he is lacking in a want.
However, in case of desires the opposite happens: abundance is possessed. Desires are self-satisfying and hence the satisfaction is sought by one person by satisfying another. A want is not a need because it does not define the complete whole or rather it defines one aspect of the whole. For example, desire for fame and success does not define the totality of the person’s being, but only the aspect of becoming famous and rich. So the desire for fame and success is not a need.
Therefore, we can say that needs are small amounts of things that are required in order to bring about a good life quality and happiness. Needs are things which are desirable and are required so that people can fulfill their wants and become happy. For example, in a household there are food and clothing, but these are not real needs because food and clothing do not last for a long time, and are therefore not wanted. They are wants, but are not needed. Similarly, thirst and need for water are desires, but they last only for a short time, so thirst and need for water are not needs, although they are wanted.
Thus, needs and desires are two different aspects of life. But they are interdependent on each other. One cannot exist without the other. This dependency is also reflected in between-self relationship. One cannot exist without the other and if one wants to have shelter, then he has to fulfill his wants by having shelter. In this way, needs and desires are interdependent, and a person cannot live without his basic needs and desires.
However, the question is that whether or not humans need shelter, and if yes, how much is the need. For instance, we know that shelter protects us from the cold and rains. In this sense, it is necessary, but it is not sufficient. On the other hand, it is argued that there is no such thing as total need because the physiological and psychological needs of man cannot be measured in monetary units, for they are qualitative.
Nevertheless, this argument is not convincing because there are some parts of human life which cannot be measured in monetary terms, for they cannot be measured in physiological needs, since these cannot be measured. The existence of shelter is an empirical fact, and it is not denied by any philosopher. It can be said that the only part of life, which can be measured in monetary units, is the need for shelter. Therefore, it is argued that humans need shelter in the sense of being able to survive financially, which is a part of our basic needs.