How well a person’s life is going (i.e., how high it is in welfare or well-being) is determined by how good or bad for that person the things that are happening in her life are. Theories of well-being purport to tell us what it takes for a person’s life to go well by identifying the basic goods and bads: the kinds that are good or bad for a person in the most fundamental way. In the philosophical literature on well-being, there is a standard menu of theories: hedonism, desire satisfactionism, perfectionism, the happiness theory, hybrid theories, and objective list theories. In “The Subjective List Theory of Well-Being” (Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2016), I argue that this menu should be expanded to include a neglected type of theory: subjective list theories. I also introduce a particular theory of this type, and I argue that it is superior to some existing theories. In this post, I will give an abbreviated version of the argument from that paper.
Mark your calendars: During the week of April 23, we’re excited to host a discussion of Seana Valentine Shiffrin’s article “The Moral Neglect of Negligence,” ch. 8 of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy vol. 3. Shiffrin’s article is available here, with permission from OUP. Enjoy!
Welcome to what should be a fun and enlightening discussion of Kate Norlock‘s “Can’t Complain” (which the Journal of Moral Philosophy has generously provided free access to throughout the weekend). Mariana Alessandri has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, which appears immediately below. Please join the discussion!
I came to philosophy motivated by a long-standing sense that there is something profoundly wrong with the way we live, a sentiment well expressed in a gorgeous 1982 film, Koyaanisqatsi, Hopi for “life out of balance” or “crazy life.” I had experienced ways of living that made sense to me and ways, depicted in the film, that did not. I wanted better to understand this worry. It was surprising, then, that my first ethics course persuaded me that it was probably not worth taking another. The readings sometimes claimed to be talking about the good life, but for the most part they just talked about this or that fragment of a good life: being morally good or being happy, for instance. The fragments made sense, but seemed simplistic and never really added up to anything very compelling. At least, I could never connect them with my original unease at contemporary living. Though not religious, I found more of relevance in religious studies classes, especially on East Asian thought. A later course on MacIntyre brought a deeper appreciation of Aristotle’s insights. But nothing quite hit the mark.
Part of what draws so many students to ancient philosophy, including non-Western thought, is that it seems clearly to address our fundamental concern to lead good lives. What we get from Aristotle and the Stoics, for instance, are comprehensive visions of the sorts of lives we should want. For Aristotle, a good life is a full and active life involving many sorts of excellence, not just moral virtue. It is a deeply pleasant and meaningful life, and includes some element of fortune in things like health and wealth. This is what we should aim at, for ourselves and our children, and the measure by which we should assess our lives in our deathbed reckonings. In broad outline, it is an attractive and reasonably commonsensical picture of the good life. (more…)
Collegiate athletics is likely going to change significantly in the near future and we should think together about how we want to direct that change. Collegiate athletics is likely to become significantly more expensive soon as student-athletes will soon be paid or paid more. And there is a possibility that those expenses will further eat away at the academic “side” of higher education,
At most colleges and universities, athletics 1) already uses up too much money and is 2) given too much weight in admissions. Concerning 1, most athletic departments, especially outside the elite athletic conferences, are a net financial drain on universities. Revenue-generating sports currently help pay for non-revenue generating sports. It is often claimed, usually without much evidence, that this cost is compensated for by alumni giving which is motivated partly by alum bonding with the university through its high-profile sports teams and continuing to relate to it after they graduate via following its nationally prominent sports teams. Further, concerning 2, prowess in athletics, like playing the tuba well, is an achievement that could reasonably give one an advantage in admissions. But prowess in sports currently is given a much larger role in admissions than similar prowess outside of sports. (more…)
UPDATED 2/26: We are excited to announce the first Journal of Moral Philosophy discussion of 2018 here at PEA Soup, which will take place on Friday March 2nd. This time, the sure to be insightful and productive discussion will be on Kathryn Norlock‘s “Can’t Complain” with a critical précis by Mariana Alessandri. Come join the fun on the 2nd! [The article is now open access thru the weekend!]
When we talk about what is good for a person, our talk may invoke different notions of a person’s good. No one of these notions has normative priority over the others; rather, each does important normative work. Arguably, some disputes among welfare theorists may be due to a failure to distinguish these notions. For purposes of illustration, I will focus on two of them here, though as will I explain, there are no doubt others.
Sometimes our talk about what is good for a person concerns the good for an individual considered as a member of a distinct biological kind. Just as we might talk about what is good for blue jays or Labrador retrievers, we might talk about what is good for human beings, H. So when we describe some welfare object, O, as good for a person, P, we treat as P’s good whatever is good for H. For example, the good for human beings might include proper nutrition, the exercise and development of their capacities, pleasure or enjoyment, and both autonomy and interconnection.