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The Construction of Well-Being

Mitchell, Mary; (2018) The Construction of Well-Being. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis develops an alternative to orthodox theories of well-being. I argue that well-being is not a property of people or the world that exists separately from attempts to define and measure it. Instead, assessments of well-being are largely shaped by the purposes and interests of the people making the measurement. In part I, I argue that philosophy of well-being should take at face value the variety of ways that well-being is understood and measured. This points towards a pluralist account of well-being. I go on to argue that a theory of well-being is incomplete unless it says something about how to determine the extent to which life is going well for someone. I argue that the identification of well-being in individuals amounts to a form of measurement. Theories of well-being must therefore be theories of the measurement of well-being. In part II, I look closely at three approaches to defining and measuring well-being—in terms of objective goods, preferences, and subjective experience. I argue that, in each case, appraisals of whether someone is doing well or not, and how well they are doing, depend on the context of measurement, the tools used to measure well-being, and the goals and purposes of the people making the assessment. In part III, I propose that well-being should not be treated as a property of people or of the world, but rather something which is largely constructed in the process of measurement. I draw on contemporary model theories of measurement to argue that well-being is best understood as representing a relation between the person whose well-being is being measured, a measuring instrument, and the environment. This relation is modelled by the people who are making the measurement in order to produce information about well-being and ascriptions of well-being are therefore unavoidably attitude dependent.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Construction of Well-Being
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2018. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: well-being, measurement, pluralism, stance dependence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064726
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