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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 36, Issue 4, October 2010

Jason Raibley
Pages 593-620
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201036432

Well-Being and the Priority of Values

Leading versions of hedonism generate implausible results about the welfare value of very intense or unwanted pleasures, while recent versions of desire satisfactionism overvalue the fulfillment of desires associated with compulsions and addictions. Consequently, both these theories fail to satisfy a plausible condition of adequacy for theories of well-being proposed by L.W. Sumner: they do not make one’s well-being depend on one’s own cares or concerns. But Sumner’s own life-satisfaction theory cannot easily be extended to explain welfare over time, and it makes mistaken (autonomous, informed) self-assessment impossible. A new account of well-being based on the stable realization of personal values enjoys the advantages claimed for these subjective theories while avoiding these problems.