The Value and Significance of Ill-Being

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:1-19 (2022)
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Since Shelly Kagan pointed out the relative neglect of ill-being in philosophical discussions, several philosophers have contributed to an emerging literature on its constituents. In doing so, they have explored possible asymmetries between the constituents of ill-being and the constituents of positive well-being. This paper explores some possible asymmetries that may arise elsewhere in the philosophy of ill-being. In particular, it considers whether there is an asymmetry between the contribution made to prudential value by equal quantities of goods and bads. It then considers a similar question about the contributions made to moral value by equal quantities of ill-being and positive well-being. The paper explores some of the difficulties involved in assessing these questions. It ends by considering broader differences, both practical and theoretical, between the significance of ill-being and of positive well-being.

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Christopher Woodard
Nottingham University


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