After this course you are able to:
- explain and evaluate the main theories of well-being;
- explain connections between individual and societal well-being;
- recognize and critically evaluate assumptions about well-being at play in texts, discussions, and practices in the world around you;
- build an argument and address counterarguments with respect to theories and assumptions about well-being.
This course is part of the minor ‘Well-Being and Society’|
The search for well-being is as old as philosophy. But what do we mean by ‘well-being’? In this course you learn about the most important accounts of well-being and what their implications are for living well. You also reflect on obstacles to well-being, and on well-being’s opposite, suffering.
One may think, for instance, that well-being is a matter of feeling good. If pleasant experiences outweigh unpleasant experiences, one does well overall. Another view holds that well-being has to do with preference satisfaction, rather than feelings: we are well when we get what we desire and do what we want to do. Yet another theory claims that well-being relies not so much on our individual feelings or individual preferences as on the fulfillment of our human nature. We flourish by fully exercising our human capacities.
All these ideas about what well-being is, are at work in the world around us. They influence our attempts to achieve well-being, to measure well-being, and to promote well-being through policies and institutions. They inform our perspective on the relation between personal well-being, society and nature. This course will help you recognize and critically question assumptions about well-being. It will help you map the vast territory of the study of well-being and see its broader ramifications, and it will bring you into contact with the main philosophies about a flourishing life.