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Being well and doing good
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7318-008X
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Vara väl och göra gott (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation contains an introductory chapter and four articles. In section 1 of the introductory chapter, I provide an overview of my argument. In section 2, I do five things. First, I show that well-being is subject-relative, meaning that well-being is always present in a life if it is present at all. Second, I restrict the discussion to people as welfare subjects. Third, I describe the levels of generality that well-being theorising can take. Fourth, I show well-being’s relations to other values. Fifth, I describe the distinction between having or not having positive well-being and enduring ill-being. In section 3 of the introductory chapter, I outline the main philosophical well-being theories. I highlight their strengths and weaknesses, before moving on to section 4 where I describe the conceptual framework I use in my articles: the capability approach. The capability approach focuses on genuine opportunities, beings, and doings. The opportunities, beings, and doings can be specified in different contexts as needed. Hence, capabilitarian analyses focusing on different opportunities, beings and doings, are available. In my articles, I argue for four things regarding those well-being analyses. First, I argue that, and show how, expert opinions and public opinions can be reconciled in well-being policy-making situations. Second, I argue that, and show how, prudentially negative beings and doings should be assessed by analysing cases of homelessness. Third, I argue that the capability approach can be used to offer a complementary account to the predominant philosophical analyses of addiction which mainly focus on its descriptive nature. My complementary analysis highlights further targets for policy-making efforts. Fourth, I argue that well-being is context-sensitive. To that end, I bolster the capability approach by refining a view called contextualism. I defend this view against counterarguments and consequently both contextualism and the capability approach are made more viable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University , 2023. , p. 47
Series
Umeå studies in philosophy, ISSN 1650-1748 ; 14
Keywords [en]
well-being, ill-being, capability approach, monism, pluralism
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207989ISBN: 978-91-8070-063-4 (print)ISBN: 978-91-8070-064-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-207989DiVA, id: diva2:1756374
Public defence
2023-06-09, Hörsal HUM.D.220 (Hörsal F), Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-05-17 Created: 2023-05-11 Last updated: 2023-05-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Combining Philosophical and Democratic Capability Lists
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Combining Philosophical and Democratic Capability Lists
2023 (English)In: Moral Philosophy and Politics, ISSN 2194-5616, E-ISSN 2194-5624, Vol. 10, no 1, p. 185-201Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Political practices often aim to reach valuable outcomes through democratic processes. However, philosophical considerations and democratic deliberations sometimes support different conclusions about what a valuable outcome would be. This paper contributes to a research agenda that aims to reconcile recommendations that follow from these different bases. The setting for this research agenda is capabilitarian. It affirms the idea that what we should distribute are substantive freedoms to be and do things that people have reason to value. Disagreements about these valuable outcomes become particularly problematic in urgent situations such as pandemics, floods, and wildfires. These situations are urgent since they are time-sensitive and involve an impending loss of well-being. A method of compromise would help mitigate losses of well-being while respecting the aim of reaching valuable outcomes through democratic processes. I thus offer an equitable and decisive method of compromise that helps integrate philosophical considerations with democratic deliberations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Walter de Gruyter, 2023
Keywords
capability approach, democratic position, philosophical position, policy-making, well-being
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-191383 (URN)10.1515/mopp-2021-0001 (DOI)000738944200001 ()2-s2.0-85116105285 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-01-14 Created: 2022-01-14 Last updated: 2023-05-11Bibliographically approved
2. Distinguishing Disadvantage from Ill-Being in the Capability Approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Distinguishing Disadvantage from Ill-Being in the Capability Approach
2021 (English)In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, ISSN 1386-2820, E-ISSN 1572-8447, Vol. 24, no 4, p. 933-947Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Central capabilitarian theories of well-being focus exclusively on actual opportunities to attain states of being and doing that people have reason to value. Consequently, these theories characterise ill-being and disadvantage as deprivations of such opportunities and attainments. However, some well-being aspects are inherently negative. They make up the difference between not being well and being unwell in that they constitute ill-being. While disadvantage can be plausibly captured by deprivations, ill-being cannot be fully captured by them. I support this claim by analysing cases involving inherently negative aspects of homelessness that are not mere deprivations of opportunities to attain beings and doings that people have reason to value. I conclude that ill-being is not only about what one cannot be and do, but also about one’s enduring, and opportunities to avoid, negative beings and doings. Theories and policies should reflect this to get things right, and to do right by people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2021
Keywords
Capability approach, Disadvantage, Homelessness, Ill-being, Well-being
National Category
Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-187929 (URN)10.1007/s10677-021-10232-1 (DOI)000698345700001 ()2-s2.0-85115311900 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2021-09-27 Created: 2021-09-27 Last updated: 2023-05-11Bibliographically approved
3. Addiction and the capability to abstain
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Addiction and the capability to abstain
2024 (English)In: Res Publica, ISSN 1356-4765, E-ISSN 1572-8692, Vol. 30, p. 211-228Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Addiction is a widespread problem affecting people from different regions, generations, and classes. It is often analysed as a problem consisting in compulsion or poor choice-making. Recently, however, integrated analyses of compulsion and choice have been called for. In this paper, I argue that the capability approach highlights the well-being loss at stake in cases of addiction, whether they are described as stemming from compulsion, poor choice-making, or some combination thereof. The relevant capabilities obtain when combinations of individual, socio-political, and environmental factors jointly facilitate abstention. On this complementary evaluative analysis, people’s capabilities to abstain are shown to be undermined by how different kinds of factors interact with each other. The upshot is that without committing to an empirical view of the nature of addiction that must capture each case, the capabilitarian analysis helps highlight a central goal of addiction-related well-being policy-work, namely to promote people’s genuine opportunities to abstain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature, 2024
Keywords
Well-being, Addiction, Capability approach, Choice views, Compulsion views
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207985 (URN)10.1007/s11158-023-09618-y (DOI)001022755100002 ()2-s2.0-85163874407 (Scopus ID)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form. 

Available from: 2023-05-05 Created: 2023-05-05 Last updated: 2024-06-19Bibliographically approved
4. Well-being contextualism and capabilities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Well-being contextualism and capabilities
2024 (English)In: Journal of Happiness Studies, ISSN 1389-4978, E-ISSN 1573-7780, Vol. 25, no 1-2, article id 10Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Typically, philosophers analysing well-being’s nature maintain three claims. First, that well-being has essential properties. Second, that the concept of well-being circumscribes those properties. Third, that well-being theories should capture them exhaustively and exclusively. This predominant position is called well-being monism. In opposition, contextualists argue that no overarching concept of well-being referring to a universally applicable well-being standard exists. Such a standard would describe what is good, bad, and neutral, for us without qualification. Instead, well-being research is putatively about several central phenomena. If several phenomena are central, a proliferation of concurrently acceptable well-being theories and operationalisations is expected. However, contextualists are challenged to explain how those analysing well-being are not systematically talking past each other. In this paper, I address that challenge. The upshot is that contextualist well-being theories can be justifiably context-sensitive and applied to tailor-made policy-making efforts. I illustrate the benefits by connecting contextualism to the capability approach.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., 2024
Keywords
Well-being, Contextualism, Monism, Pluralism, Capability approach
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207986 (URN)10.1007/s10902-024-00718-x (DOI)001147638000003 ()2-s2.0-85182869763 (Scopus ID)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form. 

Available from: 2023-05-05 Created: 2023-05-05 Last updated: 2024-02-12Bibliographically approved

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