The Worthwhileness Theory of the Prudentially Rational Life

Abstract
Two main questions are addressed: (1) What standard defines the nonmoral good for humans, the prudentially rational life? (2) How is this standard applied in guiding and in assessing lives? The standard presented is “The Worthwhileness Principle,” which asserts that if one’s life situation is sufficiently fortunate, the aim is to maximize worthwhileness, the net balance of benefits over costs; but if one’s life situation is chronically, and substantially unfortunate, the aim is to minimize nonworthwhileness, the net balance of costs over benefits. The principle is based on a two-sided, positivity and negativity, or cost-and-benefit-centered viewpoint, rather than a one-sided, good-centered viewpoint. Specifically, it includes negative ends, harms to be avoided, negative means, resource costs to be minimized, and negative luck, misfortune, unfortunate lives.Regarding the second question, the standard is applied prospectively in guiding lives and activities by means of prudential deliberation, prudential habits, and prudential spontaneity. It is applied retrospectively in assessing whole or partial lives using the Worthwhileness Scale
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