Well-being and Despair: Dante's Ugolino

Utilitas 9 (02):227- (1997)
Abstract
This paper considers three sorts of account of the quality of life. These are (1) capability views, due to Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, (2) desire accounts and (3) the prudential value list theory of James Griffin. Each approach is evaluated in the context of a tale of cannibalism and moral decay: the story of Count Ugolino in Dante's The Divine Comedy. It is argued that the example causes difficulties for Sen's version of the capability approach, as well as for desire accounts. Nussbaum's version of the capability approach deals withthe example better than Sen's. However, it fails adequately to accommodate pluralism. I suggest that James Griffin's account of well-being deals well with this example and accommodates pluralism. I suggest that, of the views considered, Griffin's is the best account of the quality of life
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