Defending a Hybrid of Objective List and Desire Theories of Well-Being

In Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and Humanities. New York, NY, USA: pp. 229 - 256 (2021)
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This paper extends previous work of mine on a view of human well-being that is a hybrid of objective-list theories and desire theories. Though some of what I say traverses old ground, much of what I say is new – new, that is, not in terms of ultimate conclusions, but rather in terms of (a) routes toward these ultimate conclusions and (b) certain implications of these ultimate conclusions (e.g., implications concerning the measurement of well-being). There are two different visions of what human beings are that I privilege and attempt to synthesize in this paper. One of these visions pushes us toward an objective-list theory. This vision is a broadly Aristotelian one according to which humans have various capacities that are central to their functioning well as the kinds of things they are, that is, as human beings. Though this broadly Aristotelian vision captures something necessary for well-being, it is, as it were, only half of the story. The other half of the story derives from a vision of human beings as unique individuals with different sets of intrinsic desires, and this desire-focused vision of humans is itself informed by Jacques Lacan and his view that each human self is constituted by a particular and dynamic chains-of-signifiers-plus-desire-flow structure. I start by briefly discussing mental state theories (section 1). Then I discuss objective-list theories at some length (sections 2-3), and, while doing this, I occasionally comment on pro-attitude theories (e.g., desire theories). After that, I present the hybrid theory of well-being that I favor and defend it against some objections (section 4). Lastly, I conclude the paper (section 5).



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William Lauinger
Chestnut Hill College

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Empirical Relationships Among Five Types of Well-Being.Seth Margolis, Eric Schwitzgebel, Daniel J. Ozer & Sonja Lyubomirsky - 2021 - In Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and Humanities. New York, NY, USA: pp. 339-376.

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