Happiness and Welfare


Authors
Sean Meseroll
University of Kansas
Abstract
In this dissertation I argue that while hedonism seems to be the correct theory of happiness, happiness does not seem to be the essence of welfare; after all, it appears that a person may be brainwashed over a given duration, may be happy over that same duration, but not also be well off over that duration, all things considered; this suggests that well-being consists of capacity-fulfillment. Hedonism about happiness, maintains that you are happy to the extent that you have pleasure, unhappy to the extent that you have pain. Besides hedonism about happiness, there are three popular theories of happiness: desire-satisfaction, life-satisfaction, and emotional state. I judge these theories both by whether they accord with our commonsense intuitions and whether they have any internal problems. All three conflict with some of our intuitions and have internal problems. HH, however, accords with our intuitions and is not susceptible to the internal problems that the other theories are susceptible to. The relationship between happiness and well-being is a complex one. Happiness does seem intrinsically good for the happy: whenever you experience an episode of happiness, you seem thereby better off. By appealing to the case of brainwashing, however, I show that happiness seems neither necessary nor sufficient for welfare. Before introducing my own theory of welfare, I discuss five alternatives: desire-satisfaction, life-satisfaction, self-fulfillment, perfectionism, and objective list. The first four fail to accord with intuition in the case of brainwashing and the last three have internal problems. My own theory of welfare, capacity-fulfillment about welfare, maintains that you are well off to the extent that you successfully exercise your basic capacities. We possess four basic capacities: affection, cognition, conation, and locomotion. While CFW does not accord with some of our intuitions, it accommodates the case of brainwashing and incorporates some of the strengths of the welfare theories I criticize while remaining immune to the internal problems they have.
Keywords happiness  well-being  hedonism  Daniel Haybron  value theory
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