In Andrea Sauchelli (ed.), Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons: An Introduction and Critical Inquiry. Routledge. pp. 94-113 (2020)

Authors
Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado, Boulder
Abstract
Derek Parfit's monumental 1984 book Reasons and Persons contains a little appendix called "What Makes Someone's Life Go Best," a mini-essay on well-being that has taken on a life of its own apart from the body to which it is attached. This paper serves as a critical guide to that appendix. Topics include: the nature of pleasure and pain and its relation to theories of well-being; the unrestricted desire-fulfillment theory and the problem of remote desires; whether a person's actual preferences should determine their counterfactual well-being; summative vs. global desire-fulfillment theories; the single-life repugnant conclusion; and objective vs. subjective vs. hybrid theories of well-being. Opinions being defended include: that Parfit's solution to the problem of remote desires fails; that his view on actual preferences and counterfactual well-being is right; that his arguments for global over summative desire-fulfilment theories fail; and that the single-life repugnant conclusion should be accepted.
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