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2013 Carnegie-Uehiro-Oxford Ethics Conference: Happiness and Well-Being

Oxford University

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2013 Carnegie-Uehiro-Oxford Ethics Conference: Happiness and Well-Being
28 min2013 JUL 25
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Standard forms of desire-based theories of well-being claim that what is better for you is what you prefer. But how shall we decide whether one life is better for you than another when your preferences change across these lives? Standard forms of desire-based theories of well-being claim that what is better for you is what you prefer. But how shall we decide whether one life is better for you than another when your preferences change across these lives? Perhaps you will prefer a life as a parent to a childless life,if you become a parent, but prefer a childless life to a life as a parent, if you remain childless. Which preferences should determine the comparative well-being of the two lives? In my talk, I shall argue that an innocent-looking answer to this question will generate an inconsistency. I shall also show that this negative result applies to many of the happiness theories of well-being that have become popular in recent years. Finally, I shall argue that the solution is to deny that what is better for you is what you prefer but maintain that what is good for you is what you favour and what is bad for you is what you disfavour. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/