Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3):307-328 (2013)

Authors
Anna Alexandrova
Cambridge University
Abstract
Judgments of well-being across different circumstances and spheres of life exhibit a staggering diversity. Depending on the situation, we use different standards of well-being and even treat it as being constituted by different things. This is true of scientific studies as well as of everyday life. How should we interpret this diversity? I consider three ways of doing so: first, denying the legitimacy of this diversity, second, treating well-being as semantically invariant but differentially realizable, and, third, adopting contextualist semantics for well-being expressions. I reject the first option on the grounds that it is unable to make sense of much of everyday and scientific linguistic practices, and also because it makes the category of well-being insignificant or even otiose for practical purposes. We should thus pick between the second and the third options. I argue that contextualism about well-being is more plausible and faces fewer objections than the differential realization view. I conclude with a discussion of other features of contextualism: it does not imply that well-being is relative to individual taste, it need not result in eliminativism about well-being, nor in scepticism about a general theory of well-being. It does not commit us to an “anything goes” approach, nor does it threaten anarchy and miscommunication.
Keywords contextualism   prudential value   well-being   differential realization
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DOI 10.1163/174552412X628814
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References found in this work BETA

Facts and Values.Peter Railton - 1986 - Philosophical Topics 14 (2):5-31.
Well-Being.Roger Crisp - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Moral Contextualism and Moral Relativism.Berit Brogaard - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):385 - 409.
On the Linguistic Basis for Contextualism.Jason Stanley - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 119 (1-2):119-146.
The Limits of Well-Being.Shelly Kagan - 1992 - Social Philosophy and Policy 9 (2):169-189.

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Citations of this work BETA

Is Well-Being Measurable After All?Anna Alexandrova - 2017 - Public Health Ethics 10 (2).
Is It Possible to Give Scientific Solutions to Grand Challenges? On the Idea of Grand Challenges for Life Science Research.Sophia Efstathiou - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56:46-61.

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