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The Structure of Well-Being: Incommensurability, Needs, and Sufficiency

Fardell, BP; (2016) The Structure of Well-Being: Incommensurability, Needs, and Sufficiency. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

As it is discussed in philosophy, economics, and some other social sciences, well-being is very commonly conceived of and treated in quantificational terms. However, it is difficult, if not impossible to make room in the quantificational conception of well-being for any notion of sufficiency––of having enough in a sense that it is especially ethically significant that people attain. This difficulty with sufficiency is encapsulated by the Threshold Problem: that of non-arbitrarily specifying a sufficiency level on a scale of well-being. This thesis takes this difficulty and this problem as an opportunity to investigate deeper problems with the quantifying approach. One line of inquiry pursued is whether a theory of needs could solve the Threshold Problem. To this end existing theories of needs are surveyed, but found wanting. The central element of the thesis, however, is a critique of the quantifying account of well-being emerging from a discussion of value incommensurability––which in turn provides resources for the development of an account of the structure of well-being. This account presents a new theory of needs, and analyses well-being in terms of needs. It avoids the Threshold Problem, because well-being is no longer a level at which a person is, nor an amount of anything they have. Rather, both having enough and being well are to have everything one needs.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Structure of Well-Being: Incommensurability, Needs, and Sufficiency
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: well-being, needs, value incommensurability, well-being sufficiency, ethics, political philosophy
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/1476165
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