Theory Without Theories: Well-Being, Ethics, and Medicine

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 46 (6):656-683 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Medical ethics would be better if people were taught to think more clearly about well-being or the concept of what is good for a person. Yet for a variety of reasons, bioethicists have generally paid little attention to this concept. Here, I argue, first, that focusing on general theories of welfare is not useful for practical medical ethics. I argue, second, for what I call the “theory-without-theories approach” to welfare in practical contexts. The first element of this approach is a focus on examining important and relatively uncontroversial constituents of welfare as opposed to general theories. The second key element is a framework for thinking about choice in relation to welfare, a framework I refer to as “the mild objectivity framework.” I conclude with illustrations of the way in which the “theory without theories approach” can improve thinking in medicine.

Author Profiles


Added to PP

578 (#28,254)

6 months
132 (#27,408)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?