Integrity, the self, and desire-based accounts of the good

Philosophical Studies 96 (3):301-328 (1999)
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Desire-based theories of well-being claim that a person's well-being consists of the satisfaction of her desires. Many of these theories say that well-being consists of the satisfaction of desires that she would have if her desires were "corrected" in various ways. Some versions of this theory claim that the corrections involve having "full information" or being an "ideal observer." I argue that well-being does not depend on what one would desire if she were an “ideal observer.” Rather, it depends on what she would desire if she had as much information as she could have and still maintain her identity as the particular person she is. The paper attempts to spell out this suggestion by constructing a notion of integrity. Roughly, integrity is preserved if one’s most central projects, commitments, and character traits are left in tact. I argue that desire-based theories of well-being should define well-being in terms of the satisfaction of those desires that one would have if one’s epistemic situation were idealized as much as would be consistent with maintaining her integrity.
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