Well-Being : Happiness in a Worthwhile Life

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This book offers a new argument for the ancient claim that well-being as the highest prudential good - eudaimonia - consists of happiness in a virtuous life. The argument takes into account recent work on happiness, well-being, and virtue, and defends a neo-Aristotelian conception of virtue as an integrated intellectual-emotional disposition that is limited in both scope and stability. This conception of virtue is argued to be widely-held and compatible with social and cognitive psychology. The main argument of the book is as follows: (i) the concept of well-being as the highest prudential good is internally coherent and widely held; (ii) well-being thus conceived requires an objectively worthwhile life; (iii) in turn, such a life requires autonomy and reality-orientation, i.e., a disposition to think for oneself, seek truth or understanding about important aspects of one's own life and human life in general, and act on this understanding when circumstances permit; (iv) to the extent that someone is successful in achieving understanding and acting on it, she is realistic, and to the extent that she is realistic, she is virtuous; (v) hence, well-being as the highest prudential good requires virtue. But complete virtue is impossible for both psychological and epistemic reasons, and this is one reason why complete well-being is impossible.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 152 x 236 x 26mm | 479.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195323270
  • 9780195323276
  • 1,297,223

Review quote

[C]onsistently engaging, colorful, and intricately argued. * Jean Kazez, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * This is an ambitious and important book. It manages to clear a commonsensical path through the non-commonsensical stretches of various eudaimonistic theories of virtue and happiness - while remaining squarely in the Aristotelian tradition, construed broadly. It resists the (aspirational) Aristotelian impulse to cast virtue in terms of fixed global traits of character. It resists the Stoic insistence on collapsing the account of the good into one thing - virtue itself - with everything else being at most a preferred indifferent. ... For all these reasons, this work is bound to be an important resource for further work on virtue ethics generally, whether within the eudaimonistic tradition or not. * Lawrence C. Becker, Professor Emeritus, College of William and Mary * The renaissance of virtue ethics, in particular the rise of neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, has greatly stimulated renewed reflection on the concepts of happiness and well-being, on the relations between prudential value and moral goodness, the instrumental and intrinsic value of the virtues, and so on. In this context, it is not easy to come up with something that is both original and convincing. Neera Badhwaras tightly argued Well-Being: Happiness in a Worthwhile Life goes a fair way towards being both ... * Anders Schinkel, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice * In addition to her incorporation of the philosophical literature, Badhwar shows how her thesis is complementary with ongoing research into experimental psychology. Her informed and nuanced treatment of the empirical evidence throughout the text is not simply philosophy playing 'catch-up' with science, or related to it in any superficial way. Rather, a great strength of the work is its ability to show how philosophy and empirical psychology can inform and support (and deeply criticize) one another. * Seamus O'Neill, Philosophy in Review * Neera Badhwar has given us a rich, subtle and humane philosophical portrait of human flourishing, marrying the critical bite of Aristotelian theories with the subjective attractions of modern accounts, and providing an exceptionally thoughtful discussion of the significance of autonomy and reality-orientation for human well-being (Badhwar 2014). It is an important contribution to the debate regarding Aristotelian theories of well-being, which for my money are the most formidable of the traditional players in philosophical debates about well-being. * Daniel M. Haybron, Journal of Value Inquiry *show more

About Neera Kapur Badhwar

Neera Badhwar is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma and is affiliated with the Departments of Philosophy and Economics at George Mason University. She has published articles on friendship, virtue, self-interest, market societies, and other topics in ethics and social-political philosophy in such journals as Ethics, Journal of Philosophy, Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Social Philosophy and Policy, and Politics, Philosophy & Economics. She is also the editor of Friendship: A Philosophical Reader (Cornell University Press).show more

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