Well-Being: Subjective, Objective, Both, or Neither?
Abstract: Within those everyday practices that well-being animates, such as friendship and parenting, well-being has features that appear to be both objective and subjective. Sometimes we wish that our children and friends cared (more) about those things that are actually good for them. Similarly, we do take some modes of lives and activities to be better than others (for them). Yet, we are suspicious of claims about what is good for a person that altogether ignore the person’s responses. On the current philosophical approach, we struggle to account for this duality because our theories of well-being understand subjectivity and objectivity in exclusive terms. True enough, subjectivists will typically try to accommodate objectivist intuitions and vice versa. This type of theoretical accommodation, however, does not account for the role that “subjectivist” and “objectivist” concerns play in the everyday practices mentioned above, or so I will argue. The problem arises because, as they are constructed, our theories abstract away from the practical questions and the epistemic constraints that characterize these practices and their subjects.