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Introductions For a broad introduction to issues in the philosophy of well-being, see Fletcher 2015.
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  1. Values, Preferences, Meaningful Choice.Joe Edelman - manuscript
    Many fields (social choice, welfare economics, recommender systems) assume people express what benefits them via their 'revealed preferences'. Revealed preferences have well-documented problems when used this way, but are hard to displace in these fields because, as an information source, they are simple, universally applicable, robust, and high-resolution. In order to compete, other information sources (about participants' values, capabilities and functionings, etc) would need to match this. I present a conception of values as *attention policies resulting from constitutive judgements*, and (...)
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  2. A Happy Possibility About Happiness (And Other Subjective) Scales: An Investigation and Tentative Defence of the Cardinality Thesis.Michael Plant - manuscript
    There are long-standing doubts about whether data from subjective scales—for instance, self-reports of happiness—are cardinally comparable. It is unclear how to assess whether these doubts are justified without first addressing two unresolved theoretical questions: how do people interpret subjective scales? Which assumptions are required for cardinal comparability? This paper offers answers to both. It proposes an explanation for scale interpretation derived from philosophy of language and game theory. In short: conversation is a cooperative endeavour governed by various maxims (Grice 1989); (...)
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  3. The pursuit of unhappiness: Well-being and the limits of personal authority.Dan Haybron - manuscript
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  4. Mapping Human Values: Enhancing Social Marketing through Obituary Data-Mining.Mark Alfano, Andrew Higgins & Jacob Levernier - forthcoming - In Eda Gurel-Atay & Lynn Kahle (eds.), Social and Cultural Values in a Global and Digital Age. Routledge.
    Obituaries are an especially rich resource for identifying people’s values. Because obituaries are succinct and explicitly intended to summarize their subjects’ lives, they may be expected to include only the features that the author(s) find most salient, not only for themselves as relatives or friends of the deceased, but also to signal to others in the community the socially-recognized aspects of the deceased’s character. We report three approaches to the scientific study of virtue and value through obituaries. We begin by (...)
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  5. Attraction, Aversion, and Meaning in Life.Alisabeth Ayars - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    Desire comes in two kinds: attraction and aversion. But contemporary theories of desire have paid little attention to the distinction, and some philosophers doubt that it is psychologically real. I argue that one reason to think there is a difference between the attitudes, and to care about it, is that attractions and aversions contribute in radically different ways to our well-being. Attraction-motivated activity adds to the good life in a way that aversion-driven activity doesn’t. I argue further that the value (...)
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  6. Is Buddhism without rebirth ‘nihilism with a happy face’?Calvin Baker - forthcoming - Analysis.
    I argue against pessimistic readings of the Buddhist tradition on which unawakened beings invariably have lives not worth living due to a preponderance of suffering (duḥkha) over well-being.
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  7. Strangers to ourselves: a Nietzschean challenge to the badness of suffering.Nicolas Delon - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Is suffering really bad? The late Derek Parfit argued that we all have reasons to want to avoid future agony and that suffering is in itself bad both for the one who suffers and impersonally. Nietzsche denied that suffering was intrinsically bad and that its value could even be impersonal. This paper has two aims. It argues against what I call ‘Realism about the Value of Suffering’ by drawing from a broadly Nietzschean debunking of our evaluative attitudes, showing that a (...)
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  8. Unconscious Pleasure as Dispositional Pleasure.James Fanciullo - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    A good deal of recent debate over the nature of pleasure and pain has surrounded the alleged phenomenon of unconscious sensory pleasure and pain, or pleasures and pains whose subjects are entirely unaware of them while experiencing them. According to Ben Bramble, these putative pleasures and pains present a problem for attitudinal theories of pleasure and pain, since these theories claim that what makes something a sensory pleasure or pain is that one has a special sort of pro- or con-attitude (...)
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  9. Alienation, Engagement, and Welfare.James Fanciullo - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    The alienation constraint on theories of well-being has been influentially expressed thus: 'what is intrinsically valuable for a person must have a connection with what he would find in some degree compelling or attractive …. It would be an intolerably alienated conception of someone’s good to imagine that it might fail in any such way to engage him' (Railton 1986: 9). Many agree this claim expresses something true, but there is little consensus on how exactly the constraint is to be (...)
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  10. Combining Good and Bad.Christopher Frugé - forthcoming - In Mauro Rossi & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Perspectives on Ill-Being. Oxford University Press.
    How does good combine with bad? Most creatures are neither so blessed as to only enjoy good nor so cursed as to only suffer bad. Rather, the good and bad they receive throughout their lives combine to produce their overall quality of life. But it’s not just whole lives that have combined good and bad. Many stretches within contain both positive and negative occurrences whose value is joined to form the overall quality of that span of time. In a single (...)
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  11. On the Well-being of Aesthetic Beings.Sherri Irvin - forthcoming - In Helena Fox, Kathleen Galvin, Michael Musalek, Martin Poltrum & Yuriko Saito (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Mental Health and Contemporary Western Aesthetics. Oxford University Press.
    As aesthetic beings, we are receptive to and engaged with the sensuous phenomena of life while also knowing that we are targets of others’ awareness: we are both aesthetic agents and aesthetic objects. Our psychological health, our standing within our communities, and our overall wellbeing can be profoundly affected by our aesthetic surroundings and by whether and how we receive aesthetic recognition from others. When our embodied selves and our cultural products are valued, and when we have rich opportunities for (...)
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  12. Better Life Stories Make Better Lives: A Reply to Berg.Antti Kauppinen - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Is it good for us if the different parts of our lives are connected to each other like the parts of a good story? Some philosophers have thought so, while others have firmly rejected it. In this paper, I focus on the state-of-the-art anti-narrativist arguments Amy Berg has recently presented. I argue that while she makes a good case that the best lives for us do not revolve around a single project or theme, the best kind of narrativist views actually (...)
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  13. The Value of Consciousness to the One Who Has It.Uriah Kriegel - forthcoming - In Geoffrey Lee & Adam Pautz (eds.), The Importance of Being Conscious. Oxford University Press.
    There is a strong intuition that a zombie’s life is never good or bad for the zombie. What explains this? In this paper, I consider five possible explanations of the intuition that a zombie’s life is never worth living, plus the option of rejecting the intuition. I point out the considerable costs of each option, though making clear which option strikes me as least problematic.
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  14. Bastiat on Economic Harmony.Mark LeBar - forthcoming - Social Philosophy and Policy.
    Frederick Bastiat’s last work was the Economic Harmonies, published in 1851. He died while completing it, and — though it had some uptake in the 19th century — in recent times scholarly interest has focused on his other work. In the Harmonies, he makes a remarkable claim: when properly understood, in a free market society all people’s economic interests are in harmony. If we consider that Karl Marx was arguing at the same time that those same societies are afflicted by (...)
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  15. Adaptive Values and Subjective Ill-Being.Qiannan Li & Tiberius Valerie - forthcoming - In Mauro Rossi & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Perspectives on Ill-Being. Oxford University Press.
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  16. Pleasure, Pain, and Pluralism about Well-Being.Eden Lin - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    Pluralistic theories of well-being might appear unable to accommodate just how important pleasure and pain are to well-being. Intuitively, there is a finite limit to how well your life can go for you if it goes badly enough hedonically (e.g. because you never feel any pleasure and you spend two years in unrelenting agony). But if there is some basic good distinct from pleasure, as any pluralistic theory must claim, then it seems that you could be made arbitrarily well off (...)
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  17. Extensive Measurement in Social Choice.Jacob M. Nebel - forthcoming - Theoretical Economics.
    Extensive measurement is the standard measurement-theoretic approach for constructing a ratio scale. It involves the comparison of objects that can be concatenated in an additively representable way. This paper studies the implications of extensively measurable welfare for social choice theory. We do this in two frameworks: an Arrovian framework with a fixed population and no interpersonal comparisons, and a generalized framework with variable populations and full interpersonal comparability. In each framework we use extensive measurement to introduce novel domain restrictions, independence (...)
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  18. Meaningful Work and Achievement in Increasingly Automated Workplaces.W. Jared Parmer - forthcoming - The Journal of Ethics:1-25.
    As automating technologies are increasingly integrated into workplaces, one concern is that many of the human workers who remain will be relegated to more dull and less positively impactful work. This paper considers two rival theories of meaningful work that might be used to evaluate particular implementations of automation. The first is achievementism, which says that work that culminates in achievements to workers’ credit is especially meaningful; the other is the practice view, which says that work that takes the form (...)
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  19. Affective Consciousness and Moral Status.Declan Smithies - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind.
    Which beings have moral status? This paper argues that moral status requires some capacity for affective consciousness. David Chalmers rejects this view on the grounds that it denies moral status to Vulcans – namely, conscious creatures with no capacity for affective consciousness. On his more inclusive view, all conscious beings have moral status. Although we agree that consciousness is required for moral status, we disagree about how to explain this. I argue that we cannot explain why unconscious zombies lack moral (...)
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  20. Being Sure and Living Well: How Security Affects Human Flourishing.J. A. M. Daemen - 2024 - Journal of Value Inquiry 58 (1):93-110.
    This paper analyses how security affects well-being. Security is understood as someone’s sureness of enjoying some good in the future; well-being is treated as a matter of human flourishing. Security can contribute to our well-being in various ways: if we are in fact bound to enjoy a good, in principle this is positive for our flourishing in the future; if we also believe that we will enjoy this good, we can be more efficient in pursuing our well-being; if we also (...)
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  21. Intersubstrate Welfare Comparisons: Important, Difficult, and Potentially Tractable.Bob Fischer & Jeff Sebo - 2024 - Utilitas 36 (1):50-63.
    In the future, when we compare the welfare of a being of one substrate (say, a human) with the welfare of another (say, an artificial intelligence system), we will be making an intersubstrate welfare comparison. In this paper, we argue that intersubstrate welfare comparisons are important, difficult, and potentially tractable. The world might soon contain a vast number of sentient or otherwise significant beings of different substrates, and moral agents will need to be able to compare their welfare levels. However, (...)
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  22. Aggregating Personal Value.Christopher Fruge - 2024 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 19.
    A person possesses value from various components of wellbeing, but they also have overall wellbeing from various instances of value taken together. Most ethicists assume that there is an objectively unique way that wellbeing from components aggregates into overall wellbeing. However, I argue that aggregation is subjective and varies depending on what sort of aggregation a person values. I end with some implications for the significance of death.
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  23. Pessimism and procreation.Daniel Pallies - 2024 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 108 (3):751-771.
    The pessimistic hypothesis is the hypothesis that life is bad for us, in the sense that we are worse off for having come into existence. Suppose this hypothesis turns out to be correct — existence turns out to be more of a burden than a gift. A natural next thought is that we should stop having children. But I contend that this is a mistake; procreation would often be permissible even if the pessimistic hypothesis turned out to be correct. Roughly, (...)
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  24. Edgeworth’s Mathematization of Social Well-Being.Adrian K. Yee - 2024 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 103 (C):5-15.
    Francis Ysidro Edgeworth’s unduly neglected monograph New and Old Methods of Ethics (1877) advances a highly sophisticated and mathematized account of social well-being in the utilitarian tradition of his 19th-century contemporaries. This article illustrates how his usage of the ‘calculus of variations’ was combined with findings from empirical psychology and economic theory to construct a consequentialist axiological framework. A conclusion is drawn that Edgeworth is a methodological predecessor to several important methods, ideas, and issues that continue to be discussed in (...)
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  25. Permissible preference purification: on context-dependent choices and decisive welfare judgements in behavioural welfare economics.Måns Abrahamson - 2023 - Journal of Economic Methodology 31 (1):17-35.
    Behavioural welfare economics has lately been challenged on account of its use of the satisfaction of true preferences as a normative criterion. The critique contests what is taken to be an implicit assumption in the literature, namely that true preferences are context-independent. This assumption is considered not only unjustified in the behavioural welfare economics literature but unjustifiable – true preferences are argued to be, at least sometimes, context-dependent. This article explores the implications of this ‘critique of the inner rational agent’. (...)
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  26. Two impossibility results for social choice under individual indifference intransitivity.Gustav Alexandrie - 2023 - Social Choice and Welfare 61:919–936.
    Due to the imperfect ability of individuals to discriminate between sufficiently similar alternatives, individual indifferences may fail to be transitive. I prove two impossibility theorems for social choice under indifference intransitivity, using axioms that are strictly weaker than Strong Pareto and that have been endorsed (sometimes jointly) in prior work on social choice under indifference intransitivity. The key axiom is Consistency, which states that if bundles are held constant for all but one individual, then society’s preferences must align with those (...)
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  27. Do Good Lives Make Good Stories?Amy Berg - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (2):637-659.
    Narrativists about well-being claim that our lives go better for us if they make good stories—if they exhibit cohesion, thematic consistency, and narrative arc. Yet narrativism leads to mistaken assessments of well-being: prioritizing narrative makes it harder to balance and change pursuits, pushes us toward one-dimensionality, and can’t make sense of the diversity of good lives. Some ways of softening key narrativist claims mean that the view can’t tell us very much about how to live a good life that we (...)
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  28. The impact of shadowboxing on the psychological well‐being of professional martial artists.Adam M. Croom - 2023 - Discover Psychology 3:4.
    Does martial arts practice contribute to psychological well-being in professional martial artists? If so, what are the specific ways that martial arts practice accomplishes this? It has been a long-standing and widely held belief that martial arts practice can contribute to psychological well-being, however, there has been a lack of empirical research in the psychological literature focused on investigating the details of this hypothesis. The purpose of this research is therefore to investigate the impact of a paradigmatic martial arts practice—shadowboxing—on (...)
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  29. Too Easy, Too Good, Too Late?Alexander Dietz - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23 (1).
    Plausibly, one important part of a good life is doing work that makes a contribution, or a positive difference to the world. In this paper, however, I explore contribution pessimism, the view that people will not always have adequate opportunities for making contributions. I distinguish between three interestingly different and at least initially plausible reasons why this view might be true: in slogan form, things might become too easy, they might become too good, or we might be too late. Now, (...)
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  30. Grounds of Goodness.Jeremy David Fix - 2023 - Journal of Philosophy 120 (7):368-391.
    What explains why we are subjects for whom objects can have value, and what explains which objects have value for us? Axiologicians say that the value of humanity is the answer. I argue that our value, no matter what it is like, cannot perform this task. We are animals among others. An explanation of the value of objects for us must fit into an explanation of the value of objects for animals generally. Different objects have value for different animals. Those (...)
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  31. Self-esteem and competition.Pablo Gilabert - 2023 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 49 (6):711-742.
    This paper explores the relations between self-esteem and competition. Self-esteem is a very important good and competition is a widespread phenomenon. They are commonly linked, as people often seek self-esteem through success in competition. Although competition in fact generates valuable consequences and can to some extent foster self-esteem, empirical research suggests that competition has a strong tendency to undermine self-esteem. To be sure, competition is not the source of all problematic deficits in self-esteem, and it can arise for, or undercut (...)
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  32. The Ordinary Meaningful Life.Joshua Glasgow - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (3):408-425.
    It is widely thought that we have good reason to try to be important. Being important or doing significant things is supposed to add value to our lives. In particular, it is supposed to make our lives exceptionally meaningful. This essay develops an alternative view. After exploring what importance is and how it might relate to meaning in life, a series of cases are presented to validate the perspective that being important adds no meaning to our lives. The meaningful life (...)
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  33. Measurement Scepticism, Construct Validation, and Methodology of Well-Being Theorising.Victor Lange & Thor Grünbaum - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10.
    Precise measurements of well-being would be of profound societal importance. Yet, the sceptical worry that we cannot use social science instruments and tests to measure well-being is widely discussed by philosophers and scientists. A recent and interesting philosophical argument has pointed to the psychometric procedures of construct validation to address this sceptical worry. The argument has proposed that these procedures could warrant confidence in our ability to measure well-being. The present paper evaluates whether this type of argument succeeds. The answer (...)
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  34. The Neutrality of Life.Andrew Y. Lee - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (3):685-703.
    Some philosophers think that life is worth living not merely because of the goods and the bads within it, but also because life itself is good. I explain how this idea can be formalized by associating each version of such of a view with a function from length of life to the value generated by life itself. Then I argue that every version of the view that life itself is good faces some version of the following dilemma: either (1) good (...)
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  35. Wasted Potential: The Value of a Life and the Significance of What Could Have Been.Michal Masny - 2023 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 51 (1):6-32.
    According to the orthodox view, the goodness of a life depends exclusively on the things that actually happened within it, such as its pleasures and pains, the satisfaction of its subject’s preferences, or the presence of various objective goods and bads. In this paper, I argue that the goodness of a life also depends on what could have happened, but didn’t. I then propose that this view helps us resolve ethical puzzles concerning the standards for a life worth living for (...)
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  36. The Sum of Well-Being.Jacob M. Nebel - 2023 - Mind 132 (528):1074–1104.
    Is well-being the kind of thing that can be summed across individuals? This paper takes a measurement-theoretic approach to answering this question. To make sense of adding well-being, we would need to identify some natural "concatenation" operation on the bearers of well-being that satisfies the axioms of extensive measurement and can therefore be represented by the arithmetic operation of addition. I explore various proposals along these lines, involving the concatenation of segments within lives over time, of entire lives led alongside (...)
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  37. Is It Fitting to Divide Value? A Review of The Value Gap. [REVIEW]Timothy Perrine - 2023 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 20 (5-6):533-544.
    Rønnow-Rasmussen’s The Value Gap is an extended argument for Value Dualism, the view that both goodness and goodness for are coherent value concepts that are not fully understandable in terms of each other. In the first part of the book, he criticizes attempts to fully understand one type of value in terms of the other. In the second part of the book, he argues that both concepts are value concepts by appealing to a “Fitting Attitude” analysis of value concepts. This (...)
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  38. The Necessity of 'Need'.Ashley Shaw - 2023 - Ethics 133 (3):329-354.
    Many philosophers have suggested that claims of need play a special normative role in ethical thought and talk. But what do such claims mean? What does this special role amount to? Progress on these questions can be made by attending to a puzzle concerning some linguistic differences between two types of 'need' sentence: one where 'need' occurs as a verb, and where it occurs as a noun. I argue that the resources developed to solve the puzzle advance our understanding of (...)
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  39. Wisdom: A Skill Theory.Cheng-Hung Tsai - 2023 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    What is wisdom? What does a wise person know? Can a wise person know how to act and live well without knowing the whys and wherefores of his own action? How is wisdom acquired? This Element addresses questions regarding the nature and acquisition of wisdom by developing and defending a skill theory of wisdom. Specifically, this theory argues that if a person S is wise, then (i) S knows that overall attitude success contributes to or constitutes well-being; (ii) S knows (...)
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  40. A Hybrid Account of Harm.Charlotte Franziska Unruh - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (4):890-903.
    ABSTRACT When does a state of affairs constitute a harm to someone? Comparative accounts say that being worse off constitutes harm. The temporal version of the comparative account is seldom taken seriously, due to apparently fatal counterexamples. I defend the temporal version against these counterexamples, and show that it is in fact more plausible than the prominent counterfactual version of the account. Non-comparative accounts say that being badly off constitutes harm. However, neither the temporal comparative account nor the non-comparative account (...)
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  41. Transformative Experiences.Marcus Arvan - 2022 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley.
  42. Doxastic Harm.Anne Baril - 2022 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:281-306.
    In this article, I will consider whether, and in what way, doxastic states can harm. I’ll first consider whether, and in what way, a person’s doxastic state can harm her, before turning to the question of whether, and in what way, it can harm someone else.
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  43. Introduction: A Very Brief History of Ill-Being.Gwen Bradford - 2022 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:5-9.
  44. Passé Pains.Ben Bramble - 2022 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:21-32.
    Why are pains bad for us? A natural answer is that it is just because of how they feel (or their felt-qualities). But this answer is cast into doubt by cases of people who are unbothered by certain pains of theirs. These pains retain their felt-qualities, but do not seem bad for the people in question. In this paper, I offer a new response to this problem. I argue that in such cases, the pains in question have become “just more (...)
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  45. The Nature of Diachronic Welfare: A Defense of the Redemption Thesis.Dong-Yong Choi - 2022 - CHUL HAK SA SANG - Journal of Philosophical Ideas 85 (85):63-89.
    The redemption thesis assumes that how events in a person’s life are related to one another is important in evaluating the person’s welfare throughout life. In particular, according to this thesis of welfare, the fact that a person’s previous hardships contribute to bringing out the same person’s later successes, and the person would regard the hardships as having been worthwhile in light of the successes makes the person’s life better for the person herself. Recently, Ian D. Dunkle provided four objections (...)
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  46. The Hedonist’s Emotions.Julien Deonna & Fabrice Teroni - 2022 - Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 17 (1-2):176-191.
    Julien Deonna et Fabrice Teroni Cet article explore l’intuition hédoniste convaincante selon laquelle les émotions affectent le bonheur parce qu’elles sont des états de plaisir et de déplaisir. La discussion s’intéresse à deux contraintes sur une version plausible de l’hédonisme et explique quels récits des émotions satisfont ces contraintes. La section 1 s’articule autour de la contrainte de non-aliénation : les constituants du bonheur d’un sujet doivent l’engager. Nous soutenons que l’intuition selon laquelle les émotions ont une valeur prudentielle présuppose (...)
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  47. Replies to Contesi, Hardcastle, Pismenny, and Gallegos.Andreas Elpidorou - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 3 (2):44-77.
    The commentaries by Contesi, Hardcastle, Pismenny, and Gallegos pose pressing questions about the nature of boredom, frustration, and anticipation. Although their questions concern specific claims that I make in Propelled, they are of broad philosophical interest for, ultimately, they pave the way for a better understanding of these three psychological states. In my responses to the commentators, I clarify certain claims made in Propelled; provide additional support for my understanding of frustration; articulate the relationship between effort and value; defend the (...)
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  48. On Sense and Preference.James Fanciullo - 2022 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 19 (3):280-302.
    Determining the precise nature of the connection between preference, choice, and welfare has arguably been the central project in the field of welfare economics, which aims to offer a proper guide for economists in the making of policy decisions that affect people’s welfare. The two leading approaches here historically – the revealed preference and latent preference approaches – seem equally incapable of so guiding economists. I argue that the deadlock here is due to welfare economists’ failure to recognize a crucial (...)
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  49. Well-Being as Need Satisfaction.Marlowe Fardell - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (3).
    This paper presents a new analysis of the concept of non-instrumental need, and, using it, demonstrates how a need-satisfaction theory of well-being is much more plausible than might otherwise be supposed. Its thesis is that in at least some contexts of evaluation a central part of some persons’ well-being consists in their satisfying certain “personal needs”. Unlike common conceptions of other non-instrumental needs, which make those out to be moralised, universal, and minimal, personal needs are expansive and particular to particular (...)
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  50. Well-Being and Moral Constraints: A Modified Subjectivist Account.Megan Fritts - 2022 - Philosophia 50 (4):1809-1824.
    In this paper, I argue that a modified version of well-being subjectivism can avoid the standard, yet unintuitive, conclusion that morally horrible acts may contribute to an agent’s well-being. To make my case, I argue that “Modified Subjectivists” need not accept such conclusions about well-being so long as they accept the following three theoretical addenda: 1) there are a plurality of values pertaining to well-being, 2) there are some objective goods, even if they do not directly contribute to well-being, and (...)
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