Well-being and the problem of unstable desires

Utilitas 35 (4):260-276 (2023)
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This paper considers a new problem for desire theories of well-being. The problem claims that these theories are implausible because they misvalue the effects of fleeting desires, long-standing desires, and fluctuations in desire strength on well-being. I begin by investigating a version of the desire theory of well-being, simple concurrentism, that fails to capture intuitions in these cases. I then argue that desire theories of well-being that are suitably stability-adjusted can avoid this problem. These theories claim that the average strength of a desire, and the length of time that it is held, both influence the extent to which its fulfilment or frustration affects well-being. I end by considering whether value-fulfilment theories of well-being have a more attractive response to this problem. I find that these theories have significant downsides that make them unappealing alternatives.

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Atus Mariqueo-Russell
University of Southampton

Citations of this work

A defence of the desire theory of well-being.Atus Mariqueo-Russell - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Southampton

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Slaves of the passions.Mark Andrew Schroeder - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Dispositional Theories of Value.Michael Smith, David Lewis & Mark Johnston - 1989 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 63 (1):89-174.

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