Well-Being

Well-Being as Harmony (Explorations in Ethics, edited by David Kaspar)

Abstract: The chapter aims to sketch a comprehensive theory of well-being based on a small set of principles of harmony. It is called harmonism. I develop a notion of harmony between mind and world that has three aspects. First, there is a correspondence between mind and world in the sense that events in the world match the content of our mental states. Second, there is a positive orientation toward the world, meaning that we have pro-attitudes toward the world we find ourselves in. Third, there is a fitting response to the world. Taken together these three aspects make up an ideal of being attuned to, or at home in, the world. Such harmony between mind and world constitutes well-being. These principles have the potential to provide a unified explanation of many items traditionally found on ‘objective lists’ of human values, such as achievement, knowledge, pleasure, self-respect, and virtue. The three principles can be understood as different aspects of a coherent ethical ideal of harmony.

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Scales for Scope: A New Solution to the Scope Problem for Pro-Attitude-Based Well-Being (Utilitas)

Abstract: Theories of well-being that give an important role to satisfied pro-attitudes need to account for the fact that, intuitively, the scope of possible objects of pro-attitudes seems much wider than the scope of things, states, or events that affect our well-being. Parfit famously illustrated this with his wish that a stranger may recover from an illness: it seems implausible that the stranger’s recovery would constitute a benefit for Parfit. There is no consensus in the literature about how to rule out such well-being-irrelevant pro-attitudes. I argue, first, that there is no distinction in kind between well-being-relevant and irrelevant pro-attitudes. Instead, well-being-irrelevant pro-attitudes are the limiting cases on the scale measuring how muchof a difference pro-attitudes make to the subject’s well-being. Second, I propose a particular scalar model according to which the well-being-relevance of pro-attitudes is measured by either their hedonic tone, or by the subject’s conative commitment.
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