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The Concept of Well-Being
  1. Worker Well-Being: What It Is, and How It Should Be Measured.Indy Wijngaards, Owen C. King, Martijn J. Burger & Job van Exel - forthcoming - Applied Research in Quality of Life.
    Worker well-being is a hot topic in organizations, consultancy and academia. However, too often, the buzz about worker well-being, enthusiasm for new programs to promote it and interest to research it, have not been accompanied by universal enthusiasm for scientific measurement. Aim to bridge this gap, we address three questions. To address the question ‘What is worker well-being?’, we explain that worker well-being is a multi-facetted concept and that it can be operationalized in a variety of constructs. We propose a (...)
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  2. Well-Being as Harmony.Hasko von Kriegstein - 2020 - In David Kaspar (ed.), Explorations in Ethics. pp. 117-140.
    In this paper, I sketch out a novel theory of well-being according to which well-being is constituted by harmony between mind and world. The notion of harmony I develop has three aspects. First there is correspondence between mind and world in the sense that events in the world match the content of our mental states. Second there is positive orientation towards the world, meaning that we have pro-attitudes towards the world we find ourselves in. Third there is fitting response to (...)
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  3. Well-Being and Pluralism.Polly Mitchell & Anna Alexandrova - forthcoming - Journal of Happiness Studies.
    It is a commonly expressed sentiment that the science and philosophy of well-being would do well to learn from each other. Typically such calls identify mistakes and bad practices on both sides that would be remedied if scientists picked the right bit of philosophy and philosophers picked the right bit of science. We argue that the differences between philosophers and scientists thinking about well-being are more difficult to reconcile than such calls suggest, and that pluralism is central to this task. (...)
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  4. The Good of Today Depends Not on the Good of Tomorrow: A Constraint on Theories of Well-Being.Owen C. King - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2365-2380.
    This article addresses three questions about well-being. First, is well-being future-sensitive? I.e., can present well-being depend on future events? Second, is well-being recursively dependent? I.e., can present well-being depend on itself? Third, can present and future well-being be interdependent? The third question combines the first two, in the sense that a yes to it is equivalent to yeses to both the first and second. To do justice to the diverse ways we contemplate well-being, I consider our thought and discourse about (...)
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  5. Well-Being Coherentism.Gil Hersch - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Philosophers of well-being have tended to adopt a foundationalist approach to the question of theory and measurement, according to which theories are conceptually prior to measures. By contrast, social scientists have tended to adopt operationalist commitments, according to which they develop and refine well-being measures independently of any philosophical foundation. Unfortunately, neither approach helps us overcome the problem of coordinating between how we characterize wellbeing and how we measure it. Instead, we should adopt a coherentist approach to well-being science.
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  6. Explanatory Perfectionism: A Fresh Take on an Ancient Theory.Michael Prinzing - 2020 - Analysis (4):704-712.
    The ‘Big 3’ theories of well-being—hedonism, desire-satisfactionism, and objective list theory—attempt to explain why certain things are good for people by appealing to prudentially good-making properties. But they don’t attempt to explain why the properties they advert to make something good for a person. Perfectionism, the view that well-being consists in nature-fulfilment, is often considered a competitor to these views (or else a version of the objective list theory). However, I argue that perfectionism is best understood as explaining why certain (...)
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  7. A Defense of Free-Roaming Cats From a Hedonist Account of Feline Well-Being.C. E. Abbate - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (3):439-461.
    There is a widespread belief that for their own safety and for the protection of wildlife, cats should be permanently kept indoors. Against this view, I argue that cat guardians have a duty to provide their feline companions with outdoor access. The argument is based on a sophisticated hedonistic account of animal well-being that acknowledges that the performance of species-normal ethological behavior is especially pleasurable. Territorial behavior, which requires outdoor access, is a feline-normal ethological behavior, so when a cat is (...)
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  8. Diversity of Meaning and the Value of a Concept: Comments on Anna Alexandrova's A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being.Jennifer Hawkins - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (4):529-535.
    In her impressive book, looking at the philosophy and science of well-being, Anna Alexandrova argues for the strong claim that we possess no stable, unified concept of well-being. Instead, she thinks the word “well-being” only comes to have a specific meaning in particular contexts, and has a quite different meaning in different contexts. I take issue with (1) her claim that we do not possess a unified, all-things-considered concept of well-being as well as with (2) her failure to consider why (...)
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  9. Mental Health Without Wellbeing.Sam Wren Lewis & Anna Alexandrova - forthcoming - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.
    What is it to be mentally healthy? In the ongoing movement to promote mental health, to reduce stigma and to establish parity between mental and physical health, there is a clear enthusiasm about this concept and a recognition of its value in human life. However, it is often unclear what mental health means in all these efforts and whether there is a single concept underlying them. Sometimes the initiatives for the sake of mental health are aimed just at reducing mental (...)
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  10. Is Motivation Internal to Value?J. David Velleman - 1998 - In C. Fehige & U. Wessels (eds.), Preferences. Walter de Gruyter.
    The view that something's being good for a person depends on his capacity to care about it – sometimes called internalism about a person’s good – is here derived from the principle that 'ought' implies 'can'. In the course of this derivation, the limits of internalism are discussed, and a distinction is drawn between two senses of the phrase "a person's good".
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  11. David Sobel, From Valuing to Value: A Defense of Subjectivism , Pp. Vii + 312. [REVIEW]Owen C. King - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (2):203-207.
    This is a review of David Sobel's monograph, From Valuing to Value: A Defense of Subjectivism.
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  12. Pulling Apart Well-Being at a Time and the Goodness of a Life.Owen C. King - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:349-370.
    This article argues that a person’s well-being at a time and the goodness of her life are two distinct values. It is commonly accepted as platitudinous that well-being is what makes a life good for the person who lives it. Even philosophers who distinguish between well-being at a time and the goodness of a life still typically assume that increasing a person’s well-being at some particular moment, all else equal, necessarily improves her life on the whole. I develop a precise (...)
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  13. A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being.Anna Alexandrova - 2017 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Do the new sciences of well-being provide knowledge that respects the nature of well-being? This book written from the perspective of philosophy of science articulates how this field can speak to well-being proper and can do so in a way that respects the demands of objectivity and measurement.
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  14. Ways to Be Worse Off.Ian Stoner - 2016 - Res Philosophica 93 (4):921-949.
    Does disability make a person worse off? I argue that the best answer is yes and no, because we can be worse off in two conceptually distinct ways. Disabilities usually make us worse off in one way (typified by facing hassles) but not in the other (typified by facing loneliness). Acknowledging two conceptually distinct ways to be worse off has fundamental implications for philosophical theories of well-being.
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  15. What Is Goodness Good For?Christian Piller - 2015 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies Normative Ethics: Volume 4. pp. 179-209.
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  16. Toni Rønnow‐Rasmussen, Personal Value, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011, 185 Pp., US$ 75 , ISBN 9780199603787. [REVIEW]Olivier Massin - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (2):221-231.
    Personal Values is a delightful and enlightening read. It is teeming with novel insights, ground-breaking distinctions, rich examples, new delineations of the field, refreshing historical reminders, inventive arguments, unprecedented connections, identifications of neglected difficulties, and pioneering proposals. I shall focus here on three of these insights, which are illustrative of the pervasive scrupulousness and inventiveness of the book. The first is that there is a distinction between the supervenience base of values and their constitutive grounds. The second is that FA (...)
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  17. The Elements of Well-Being.Brad Hooker - 2015 - Journal of Practical Ethics 3 (1):15-35.
    This essay contends that the constitutive elements of well-being are plural, partly objective, and separable. The essay argues that these elements are pleasure, friendship, significant achievement, important knowledge, and autonomy, but not either the appreciation of beauty or the living of a morally good life. The essay goes on to attack the view that elements of well-being must be combined in order for well-being to be enhanced. The final section argues against the view that, because anything important to say about (...)
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  18. Medicine & Well-Being.Daniel Groll - 2015 - In Guy Fletcher (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being. Routledge.
    The connections between medicine and well-being are myriad. This paper focuses on the place of well-being in clinical medicine. It is here that different views of well-being, and their connection to concepts like “autonomy” and “authenticity”, both illuminate and are illuminated by looking closely at the kinds of interactions that routinely take place between clinicians, patients, and family members. -/- In the first part of the paper, I explore the place of well-being in a paradigmatic clinical encounter, one where a (...)
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  19. Happiness is Not Well-Being.Jason R. Raibley - 2012 - Journal of Happiness Studies 13 (6):1105-1129.
    This paper attempts to explain the conceptual connections between happiness and well-being. It first distinguishes episodic happiness from happiness in the personal attribute sense. It then evaluates two recent proposals about the connection between happiness and well-being: (1) the idea that episodic happiness and well-being both have the same fundamental determinants, so that a person is well-off to a particular degree in virtue of the fact that they are happy to that degree, and (2) the idea that happiness in the (...)
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  20. Harm.Michael Rabenberg - 2014 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (3):1-32.
    In recent years, philosophers have proposed a variety of accounts of the nature of harm. In this paper, I consider several of these accounts and argue that they are unsuccessful. I then make a modest case for a different view.
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  21. Meaning as a Distinct and Fundamental Value: Reply to Kershnar.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - Science, Religion and Culture 1 (2):101-106.
    In this article, I reply to a critical notice of my book, Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study, that Stephen Kershnar has published elsewhere in this issue of Science, Religion & Culture. Beyond expounding the central conclusions of the book, Kershnar advances two major criticisms of it, namely, first, that I did not provide enough evidence that meaning in life is a genuine value-theoretic category as something distinct from and competing with, say, objective well-being, and, second, that, even if there (...)
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  22. Good and Good For.Sergio Tenenbaum - 2010 - In Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good. Oxford University Press.
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  23. What Is This Thing Called Well-Being.Richard Kim - manuscript
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  24. The Locative Analysis of Good For Formulated and Defended.Guy Fletcher - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (JESP) 6 (1):1-27.
    THE STRUCTURE OF THIS PAPER IS AS FOLLOWS. I begin §1 by dealing with preliminary issues such as the different relations expressed by the “good for” locution. I then (§2) outline the Locative Analysis of good for and explain its main elements before moving on to (§3) outlining and discussing the positive features of the view. In the subsequent sections I show how the Locative Analysis can respond to objections from, or inspired by, Sumner (§4-5), Regan (§6), and Schroeder and (...)
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  25. Resisting Buck-Passing Accounts of Prudential Value.Guy Fletcher - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 157 (1):77-91.
    This paper aims to cast doubt upon a certain way of analysing prudential value (or good for ), namely in the manner of a ‘buck-passing’ analysis. It begins by explaining why we should be interested in analyses of good for and the nature of buck-passing analyses generally (§I). It moves on to considering and rejecting two sets of buck-passing analyses. The first are analyses that are likely to be suggested by those attracted to the idea of analysing good for in (...)
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  26. Love, Poetry, and the Good Life: Mill's Autobiography and Perfectionist Ethics.Samuel Clark - 2010 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (6):565-578.
    I argue for a perfectionist reading of Mill’s account of the good life, by using the failures of development recorded in his Autobiography as a way to understand his official account of happiness in Utilitarianism. This work offers both a new perspective on Mill’s thought, and a distinctive account of the role of aesthetic and emotional capacities in the most choiceworthy human life. I consider the philosophical purposes of autobiography, Mill’s disagreements with Bentham, and the nature of competent judges and (...)
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  27. Does Moral Virtue Constitute a Benefit to the Agent?Brad Hooker - 1996 - In Roger Crisp (ed.), How Should one Live? Oxford University Press.
    Theories of individual well‐being fall into three main categories: hedonism, the desire‐fulfilment theory, and the list theory (which maintains that there are some things that can benefit a person without increasing the person's pleasure or desire‐fulfilment). The paper briefly explains the answers that hedonism and the desire‐fulfilment theory give to the question of whether being virtuous constitutes a benefit to the agent. Most of the paper is about the list theory's answer.
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  28. Rejecting Well-Being Invariabilism.Guy Fletcher - 2009 - Philosophical Papers 38 (1):21-34.
    This paper is an attempt to undermine a basic assumption of theories of well-being, one that I call well-being invariabilism. I argue that much of what makes existing theories of well-being inadequate stems from the invariabilist assumption. After distinguishing and explaining well-being invariabilism and well-being variabilism, I show that the most widely-held theories of well-being—hedonism, desire-satisfaction, and pluralist objective-list theories—presuppose invariabilism and that a large class of the objections to them arise because of it. My aim is to show that (...)
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  29. The Subjective Intuition.Jennifer S. Hawkins - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (1):61 - 68.
    Theories of well-being are typically divided into subjective and objective. Subjective theories are those which make facts about a person’s welfare depend on facts about her actual or hypothetical mental states. I am interested in what motivates this approach to the theory of welfare. The contemporary view is that subjectivism is devoted to honoring the evaluative perspective of the individual, but this is both a misleading account of the motivations behind subjectivism, and a vision that dooms subjective theories to failure. (...)
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  30. Value and the Right Kind of Reason.Mark Schroeder - 2010 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 5:25-55.
    Fitting Attitudes accounts of value analogize or equate being good with being desirable, on the premise that ‘desirable’ means not, ‘able to be desired’, as Mill has been accused of mistakenly assuming, but ‘ought to be desired’, or something similar. The appeal of this idea is visible in the critical reaction to Mill, which generally goes along with his equation of ‘good’ with ‘desirable’ and only balks at the second step, and it crosses broad boundaries in terms of philosophers’ other (...)
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Hedonist Accounts of Well-Being
  1. A Defense of Basic Prudential Hedonism.Joe Nelson - 2020 - Dissertation, Duke University
    Prudential hedonism is a school of thought in the philosophy of welfare that says that only pleasure is good for us in itself and only pain is bad for us in itself. This dissertation concerns an especially austere form of prudential hedonism: basic prudential hedonism (BPH). BPH claims that all pleasure is good for us in itself, and all pain is bad for us in itself, without exception; that all pleasures feel fundamentally alike, as do all pains; and that the (...)
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  2. The Pleasures of Tranquillity.Alex Voorhoeve - manuscript
    Epicurus posited that the best life involves the greatest pleasures. He also argued that it involves attaining tranquillity. Many commentators have expressed scepticism that these two claims are compatible. For, they argue, Epicurus’ tranquil life is so austere that it is hard to see how it could be maximally pleasurable. Here, I offer an Epicurean account of the pleasures of tranquillity. I also consider different ways of valuing lives from a hedonistic point of view. Benthamite hedonists value lives by the (...)
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  3. Strangers to Ourselves: A Nietzschean Challenge to the Badness of Suffering.Nicolas Delon - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Is suffering really bad? The late Derek Parfit argued that we all have reasons to want to avoid future agony and that suffering is in itself bad both for the one who suffers and impersonally. Nietzsche denied that suffering was intrinsically bad and that its value could even be impersonal. This paper has two aims. It argues against what I call ‘Realism about the Value of Suffering’ by drawing from a broadly Nietzschean debunking of our evaluative attitudes, showing that a (...)
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  4. Can I Get A Little Less Satisfaction, Please?Michael Plant - manuscript
    While life satisfaction theories (LSTs) of well-being are barely discussed in philosophy, they are popular among social scientists and wider society. When philosophers have discussed LSTs, they are taken to be a distinct alternative to the three canonical accounts of well-being—hedonism, desire theories, the objective list. This essay makes three main claims. First, on closer inspection, LSTs are indistinguishable from a type of desire theory—the global desire theory. Second, the life satisfaction/global desire theories are the only subjectivist accounts of well-being (...)
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  5. Well-Being as Harmony.Hasko von Kriegstein - 2020 - In David Kaspar (ed.), Explorations in Ethics. pp. 117-140.
    In this paper, I sketch out a novel theory of well-being according to which well-being is constituted by harmony between mind and world. The notion of harmony I develop has three aspects. First there is correspondence between mind and world in the sense that events in the world match the content of our mental states. Second there is positive orientation towards the world, meaning that we have pro-attitudes towards the world we find ourselves in. Third there is fitting response to (...)
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  6. Paley, William.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 2006 - In Virgilio Melchiorre (ed.), Enciclopedia filosofica. Milano, Italy: Bompiani. pp. 8245-8247.
    A presentation of the philosophical works of WIlliam Paley.
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  7. What is Good for Spock? A Defense of Attitudinal Hedonism.Isaac Shur - 2019 - Ephemeris 19:46-57.
    Attitudinal Hedonism is a theory of well-being which claims that welfare consists in states of attitudinal pleasure. Fred Feldman characterizes attitudinal pleasure as a state of consciousness similar to attitudes of hope and fear or belief and doubt. He employs the term, enjoyment for the relevant conscious state of attitudinal pleasure and disenjoyment for attitudinal pain. Attitudinal pleasures and pains contrast with sensory pleasures like sex or drugs and sensory pains like cuts or bruises which are felt with the senses (...)
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  8. A Defense of Free-Roaming Cats From a Hedonist Account of Feline Well-Being.C. E. Abbate - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (3):439-461.
    There is a widespread belief that for their own safety and for the protection of wildlife, cats should be permanently kept indoors. Against this view, I argue that cat guardians have a duty to provide their feline companions with outdoor access. The argument is based on a sophisticated hedonistic account of animal well-being that acknowledges that the performance of species-normal ethological behavior is especially pleasurable. Territorial behavior, which requires outdoor access, is a feline-normal ethological behavior, so when a cat is (...)
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  9. Aesthetic Hedonism and Its Critics.Servaas Van der Berg - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (1):e12645.
    This essay surveys the main objections to aesthetic hedonism, the view that aesthetic value is reducible to the value of aesthetic pleasure or experience. Hedonism is the dominant view of aesthetic value, but a spate of recent criticisms has drawn its accuracy into question. I introduce some distinctions crucial to the criticisms, before using the bulk of the essay to identify and review six major lines of argument that hedonism's critics have employed against it. Whether or not these arguments suffice (...)
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  10. The Experience Machine and the Experience Requirement.Jennifer Hawkins - 2016 - In Guy Fletcher (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being. New York, NY, USA: Routledge. pp. 355-365.
    In this article I explore various facets of Nozick’s famous thought experiment involving the experience machine. Nozick’s original target is hedonism—the view that the only intrinsic prudential value is pleasure. But the argument, if successful, undermines any experientialist theory, i.e. any theory that limits intrinsic prudential value to mental states. I first highlight problems arising from the way Nozick sets up the thought experiment. He asks us to imagine choosing whether or not to enter the machine and uses our choice (...)
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  11. Artistic Creativity and Suffering.Jennifer Hawkins - 2018 - In Berys Gaut & Matthew Kieran (eds.), Creativity and Philosophy. New York, NY, USA:
    What is the relationship between negative experience, artistic production, and prudential value? If it were true that (for some people) artistic creativity must be purchased at the price of negative experience (to be clear: currently no one knows whether this is true), what should we conclude about the value of such experiences? Are they worth it for the sake of art? The first part of this essay considers general questions about how to establish the positive extrinsic value of something intrinsically (...)
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  12. Wireheading as a Possible Contributor to Civilizational Decline.Alexey Turchin - manuscript
    Abstract: Advances in new technologies create new ways to stimulate the pleasure center of the human brain via new chemicals, direct application of electricity, electromagnetic fields, “reward hacking” in games and social networks, and in the future, possibly via genetic manipulation, nanorobots and AI systems. This may have two consequences: a) human life may become more interesting, b) humans may stop participating in any external activities, including work, maintenance, reproduction, and even caring for their own health, which could slowly contribute (...)
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  13. VIII—Epicurus on Pleasure, a Complete Life, and Death: A Defence.Alex Voorhoeve - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (3):225-253.
    Epicurus argued that the good life is the pleasurable life. He also argued that ‘death is nothing to us’. These claims appear in tension. For if pleasure is good, then it seems that death is bad when it deprives us of deeply enjoyable time alive. Here, I offer an Epicurean view of pleasure and the complete life which dissolves this tension. This view is, I contend, more appealing than critics of Epicureanism have allowed, in part because it assigns higher value (...)
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  14. James Warren, “The Pleasures of Reason in Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic Hedonists.” Review by Facundo Bey. [REVIEW]Facundo Bey - 2016 - Boletín de Estética 36:71-76.
    The Pleasures of Reason in Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic Hedonists se centra en la relación mutua entre las capacidades humanas de sentir placer y dolor y el carácter afectivo que las une con las facultades cognitivas de aprender, comprender, recordar, evocar, planificar y anticiparse. Para esto, Warren consagra toda su agudeza analítica a eminentes obras del pensamiento antiguo: particularmente nos referimos a los diálogos platónicos República, Protágoras y Filebo. Otro tanto hace con De Anima, De Memoria et Reminiscentia, Ética (...)
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  15. Hedonism.Alex Gregory - 2015 - In Guy Fletcher (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Wellbeing. Routledge.
    An overview of the hedonistic theory of wellbeing.
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  16. Lopsided Lives.Theron Pummer - 2017 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 275-296.
    Intuitively there are many different things that non-derivatively contribute to well-being: pleasure, desire satisfaction, knowledge, friendship, love, rationality, freedom, moral virtue, and appreciation of true beauty. According to pluralism, at least two different types of things non-derivatively contribute to well-being. Lopsided lives score very low in terms of some types of things that putatively non-derivatively contribute to well-being, but very high in terms of other such types of things. I argue that pluralists essentially face a trilemma about lopsided lives: they (...)
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  17. The Experience Machine.Ben Bramble - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (3):136-145.
    In this paper, I reconstruct Robert Nozick's experience machine objection to hedonism about well-being. I then explain and briefly discuss the most important recent criticisms that have been made of it. Finally, I question the conventional wisdom that the experience machine, while it neatly disposes of hedonism, poses no problem for desire-based theories of well-being.
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  18. A New Defense of Hedonism About Well-Being.Ben Bramble - 2016 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3.
    According to hedonism about well-being, lives can go well or poorly for us just in virtue of our ability to feel pleasure and pain. Hedonism has had many advocates historically, but has relatively few nowadays. This is mainly due to three highly influential objections to it: The Philosophy of Swine, The Experience Machine, and The Resonance Constraint. In this paper, I attempt to revive hedonism. I begin by giving a precise new definition of it. I then argue that the right (...)
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  19. Two Types of Psychological Hedonism.Justin Garson - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56:7-14.
    I develop a distinction between two types of psychological hedonism. Inferential hedonism (or “I-hedonism”) holds that each person only has ultimate desires regarding his or her own hedonic states (pleasure and pain). Reinforcement hedonism (or “R–hedonism”) holds that each person's ultimate desires, whatever their contents are, are differentially reinforced in that person’s cognitive system only by virtue of their association with hedonic states. I’ll argue that accepting R-hedonism and rejecting I-hedonism provides a conciliatory position on the traditional altruism debate, and (...)
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  20. Hedonism.John J. Tilley - 2012 - In Ruth Chadwick (ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, 2nd ed., vol. 2. Academic Press. pp. 566-73.
    This article covers four types of hedonism: ancient hedonism; ethical hedonism; axiological hedonism; and psychological hedonism. It concentrates on the latter two types, both by clarifying them and by discussing arguments in their behalf. It closes with a few words about the relevance of those positions to applied ethics.
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