Well-being, autonomy, and the horizon problem

Utilitas 20 (2):143-168 (2008)
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Desire satisfaction theorists and attitudinal-happiness theorists of well-being are committed to correcting the psychological attitudes upon which their theories are built. However, it is not often recognized that some of the attitudes in need of correction are evaluative attitudes. Moreover, it is hard to know how to correct for poor evaluative attitudes in ways that respect the traditional commitment to the authority of the individual subject's evaluative perspective. L. W. Sumner has proposed an autonomy-as-authenticity requirement to perform this task, but this article argues that it cannot do the job. Sumner's proposal focuses on the social origins of our values and overlooks the deep psychological roots of other evaluative attitudes that are just as problematic for welfare. If subjective theories of welfare are to be at all plausible they may need to abandon or modify their traditional commitment to the authority of the individual subject

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Jennifer Hawkins
Duke University


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