The Missing-Desires Objection to Hybrid Theories of Well-Being

Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (2):270-295 (2013)
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Many philosophers have claimed that we might do well to adopt a hybrid theory of well-being: a theory that incorporates both an objective-value constraint and a pro-attitude constraint. Hybrid theories are attractive for two main reasons. First, unlike desire theories of well-being, hybrid theories need not worry about the problem of defective desires. This is so because, unlike desire theories, hybrid theories place an objective-value constraint on well-being. Second, unlike objectivist theories of well-being, hybrid theories need not worry about being overly alienating. This is so because, unlike objectivist theories, hybrid theories place a pro-attitude constraint on well-being. However, from the point of view of objectivists, hybrid theories are not objectivist enough, and this can be seen clearly in missing-desires cases. For instance, hybrid theories entail that, if someone lacks the desire for health, then health is not a component of her well-being. This, objectivists say, is implausible. It is obvious, objectivists say, that someone’s life goes better for herself inasmuch as she is healthy, and hence that health is a component of her welfare. This paper focuses on the missing-desires objection (as leveled by objectivists) to hybrid theories of well-being. My argument is that the missing-desires objection can be answered in a way that is generally convincing and, in particular, in a way that pays a good deal of respect to objectivist intuitions about well-being. My hope, then, is that this paper will help to persuade objectivists about well-being to become hybrid theorists.

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William Lauinger
Chestnut Hill College

Citations of this work

Well‐being, part 1: The concept of well‐being.Eden Lin - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (2):e12813.
Quirky Desires and Well-Being.Donald Bruckner - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (2):1-34.
Hybrid Theories.Christopher Woodard - 2015 - In Guy Fletcher (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being. Routledge. pp. 161-174.
Well‐being, part 2: Theories of well‐being.Eden Lin - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (2):e12813.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Natural law and natural rights.John Finnis - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Welfare, happiness, and ethics.L. W. Sumner - 1996 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Well-being: its meaning, measurement, and moral importance.James Griffin - 1986 - Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press.

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