21
Mar
15

Subjective Well-Being: When, and Why, it Matters

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to give a principled answer to the question of under what conditions measures of happiness or life satisfaction, understood as subjectively experienced mental states, can serve as proxies for well-being. According to a widely held view, measures of happiness and life satisfaction represent well-being because happiness andlife satisfaction are constitutive of well-being. This position, however, is untenable. Efforts to address this question interms of Amartya Sen’s capability approach have been similarly unsuccessful. Instead, I argue, happiness and lifesatisfaction matter because, and insofar as, people want to be happy and/or satisfied; consequently, measures ofhappiness and life satisfaction can serve as measures of well-being whenever happiness is sufficiently correlated with orcausally efficacious in bringing about greater preference satisfaction. While this position entails a less expansive view ofthe uses of happiness and life satisfaction measures, I maintain that if their proponents were to take this line, many ofthe objections to their enterprise can be met

See on academia.edu



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