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Well-being and actual desires
What makes a life good for the person who lives it? According to one answer, enjoyment. Hedonists tell us that one's life goes well to the extent that he enjoys himself and avoids pain. Another answer is that we do well in life to the extent to which we get what we desire. Some versions of this last answer count only "rational" of "informed" desires as relevant to well-being. I defend the view that a person's quality of life is determined by the overall fit between what he actually wants and what he gets, whether or not he is informed or rational. ^ In Chapter 1, I present and explain a theory about well-being, Actual Desire Satisfactionism. I discuss some intuitions about the value of getting what we want and show several ways to develop a theory around these intuitions. In Chapter 2, I respond to the objection that well-being cannot be determined by the satisfactions and frustrations of our actual desires because sometimes our actual desires are defective. In Chapter 3, I argue that our lives can be improved by getting what we want even when the things we want are apparently irrelevant to how our lives unfold. In Chapter 4, I show that Actual Desire Satisfactionism is consistent with our ordinary intuitions about self-sacrifice. In Chapter 5, I respond to an objection based on the fact that our desires often change over time. In Chapter 6, I discuss an argument based on the idea that some of our desires are unwanted. In Chapter 7, I show that Actual Desire Satisfactionism is compatible with various common intuitions about the narrative arrangement and variety of goods in a life. Finally, in Chapter 8, I suggest several ways to reconcile Actual Desire Satisfactionism with hedonistic accounts of well-being. ^
Mark E Lukas,
"Well-being and actual desires"
(January 1, 2005).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.