Workshop on Subjectivism and Objectivism About Well-Being

December 18, 2017 - December 19, 2017
University of Tampere

Kalevantie 4
Tampere 33100

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Main speakers:

Gwen Bradford
Rice University
Jennifer Hawkins
Duke University
Eden Lin
Ohio State University
Valerie Tiberius
University of Minnesota


Antti Kauppinen
University of Tampere
Arto Laitinen
University of Tampere

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Can something be non-instrumentally good for you even if you don’t regard it as good in any way? One of the basic divisions among philosophical and other views of well-being concerns the role of subjective endorsement of some sort in determining what’s in our self-interest. Subjectivists about well-being hold that our subjective attitudes – desires, preferences, values, or perhaps beliefs about the good – determine what is basically good for us. Objectivists, in turn, hold that some things are good for us independently of our attitudes towards them, and may be such even if we regard them as worthless (though the nature of these objectively good things may involve positive attitudes – you can’t have the good of friendship in your life if you’re indifferent to the fate of your friend). Hybrid views hold that what is fundamentally good for us is having those objectively good things that we enjoy or otherwise respond to in a positive fashion, or more weakly that the value of either the subjective response or objective good is increased by a match between them.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the pros and cons of subjectivism, objectivism, and different possible hybrids. We’re interested in following questions, among others: Must a person have a positive response towards something (insofar as she is aware of it) for it to be basically good for her? What kind of positive response, if any, is relevant to well-being? Do pleasure and pain involve positive and negative attitudes? If some things are basically good for us independently of our attitudes, what makes them good for us? Are the basic constituents of well-being the same for adults, children, animals, and other potential well-being subjects? What implications does adopting either a subjectivist or an objectivist view have for applied ethics, such as end-of-life treatment? Should public policies that aim to benefit people be oriented by a subjective, objective, or hybrid conception of well-being?

The workshop is organized by Antti Kauppinen and Arto Laitinen (School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tampere), and funded by the Academy of Finland research project Well-Being, Agency, and Happiness (287776). 

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