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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L176-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2022
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

An individual’s well-being – or, equivalently, their welfare or quality of life – is the extent to which their life is going well for them. The philosophical question about well-being that has received the most attention is what constitutes or grounds it. When a person has a certain level of well-being, or when one individual is higher or lower in well-being than another, in virtue of what is this true? What is the correct standard for ranking lives in accordance with how well they are going? Theories of well-being, which attempt to answer these questions, come in four main varieties. Experientialist theories, of which hedonism is the most prominent example, claim that an individual’s well-being is entirely determined by how their experiences feel (e.g., how pleasant they are). Subjective theories, of which the desire-satisfaction theory is the main paradigm, claim that an individual’s well-being is entirely fixed by the degree to which their favourable attitudes (e.g., desires) are satisfied. Objective theories, of which perfectionism and the objective list theory are the primary examples, contend that at least some goods can contribute to an individual’s well-being regardless of whether the individual has a favourable attitude toward them. Hybrid theories combine elements of different theories.

Citing this article:
Lin, Eden. Well-being, 2022, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L176-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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