This paper presents the results of two surveys, which explored how ordinary people in a rural village and urban township view human development. These findings are used to evaluate some abstract concepts of human well-being and development, and constitute the foundation for constructing a more realistic development ethic to guide public policy. Perhaps the most significant finding is that most people appear to share a common vision of development, which is not fundamentally at odds with most of the capabilities advocated by scholars like Nussbaum and Sen. Most development ethics, however, need to say more about: (1) the practical side of survival and development in poor countries; (2) the psychology of human well-being, i.e. mental functioning; and (3) some of the "better things" in life such as recreation.