: This version implies that need is a 'blank check' claim on ability and that (if the maxim is to have meaning) its enforceable.
Not at all, its simply saying that we work together to satisfy our needs as we find them, and we do what we can. How on earth can we enforce work according to ability - know-one can know what another is truly capable of, its up to them to try and find out for themselves.
: Not only is that a causal con trick it is also quite monstrous. It means that the extent of your ability is the extent of you encarceration. The more able you are the more 'needs' you can serve and thus the more culpible you are for any one else's needs should you fail to serve them.
There is no connection between the two, simply put, it means that we should strive to ensure that all our needs are met. Hardly monstrous.
: Who is the least free in such a society? The more able you are the less freedom you have, your enforced obligation sees to that. The less able you are and the more needs you have the more free you are, there are no obligations upon you then. So what will be the result? People will play down or deny their abilities and exaggerate or focus on their needs so as to avoid becoming a slave to needs.
But since both are necessarilly self defined, anyway, and since the aim of developing one is to satisfy the other, such a contingency couldn't occur.
: More entertaining is the society that states ability and needs are 'self defined' and that each definition is equally valid. I can see it now. "by my definition I need 3 yachts and I can't do anything...get on with it then!". If Barry recognises the problem of freeloaders I can see why he didn't quote this version.
But that runs into the problem of abilty being self defined, and work voluntary, you'll only get your three yachts if you persuade others to make them for you. Don't forget, also, btw, work is a need itself.