Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 48, 2023

Lorraine L. Besser
Pages 233-245

Reimagining the Quality of Life

In recent papers, I defend the intrinsic value of the interesting, and the intrinsic disvalue of the boring. My arguments introduce two claims with important implications for discussions of the quality of life. The first is that when it comes to experiences, there’s more value at stake than pleasure alone. The second is that there is value to cognitive engagement itself, even when it is unstructured by desires or reasons. This paper explores the important consequences these conclusions have for how we appraise the quality of life of subjects with dramatically impaired cognitive capacities (such as patients with advanced Alzheimer’s and patients in a persistent vegetive state). I examine whether such groups are capable of experiencing the interesting and, by extension, what degrees of self-awareness are required to experience the kind of cognitive engagement at stake in interesting experiences.