When theorizers assess how people are doing, they often speak in terms of happiness or in terms of well-being. Neither of these appears ideal to me. In my work, I talk of a well-lived human life. This notion is inspired by ancient ethics and meets three criteria.
First, it is possible for someone to lead a good life even though, at certain moments, the person is not happy. Indeed, it may be impossible to be continually happy. At the same time, a life that is entirely without positive moods, feelings, emotions, and so on, does not seem to be a life that on the whole we would want—and as I argue in a moment, this matters. In aiming to lead a good life, we plausibly aim to live in ways that include positive experiences. (more…)