Taking the satisfaction (and the life) out of life satisfaction

Philosophical Explorations 14 (3):249-262 (2011)

Dan Haybron
Saint Louis University
The science of well-being studies an evaluative kind, well-being, which raises natural worries about the ability of empirical research to deliver. This paper argues that well-being research can provide important information about how people are doing without entangling itself very deeply in controversial normative claims. Most life satisfaction research, for instance, purports only to tell us how people see their lives going relative to what they care about ? something most people can agree is important, whatever their theory of well-being. At the same time, such research can mislead if it does not in fact have the significance it seems to have. Life satisfaction measures in fact have this problem: life satisfaction attitudes have deep in-principle limitations in their ability to reflect the subjective quality of people's lives, for instance because they are only weakly constrained by the facts about how people see their lives going. You might, e.g., reasonably be satisfied with your life even if you think it's going badly for you. I propose largely replacing such measures with aggregate life evaluation measures, which dispense with both the global judgment and ?satisfaction? elements of life satisfaction
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2011.594959
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References found in this work BETA

The Idea of Justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Well-Being.Roger Crisp - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
What is This Thing Called Happiness?Fred Feldman - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
On Being Happy or Unhappy.Daniel M. Haybron - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):287–317.

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Citations of this work BETA

How Theories of Well-Being Can Help Us Help.Valerie Tiberius - 2014 - Journal of Practical Ethics 2 (2):1-19.
The Proper Pursuit of Happiness.Daniel M. Haybron - 2013 - Res Philosophica 90 (3):387-411.

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Spinoza's Theories of Value.Andrew Youpa - 2010 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (2):209 – 229.
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