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Haybron, Daniel M.
Tiberius, Valerie
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
Papers on Economics and Evolution 1202
This paper examines the normative principles that should guide policies aimed at promoting happiness or, more broadly, well-being. After arguing that well-being policy is both legitimate and necessary, we lay out a case for pragmatic subjectivism: given widely accepted principles of respect for persons, well-being policy may not assume any view of well-being, subjectivist or objectivist. Rather it should promote what its intended beneficiaries see as good for them: pleasure for hedonists, excellence for Aristotelians, etc. Specifically, well-being policy should promote citizens' personal welfare values: those values - and not mere preferences - that individuals' see as bearing on their well-being. We suggest a variety of means for determining what people value, but conclude that there is no canonical means of doing this: there will often be some indeterminacy about what people value. Finally, we consider how pragmatic subjectivism works in practice, arguing that headline measures of well-being should include subjective well-being - given that it is so widely and deeply valued - and perhaps other values as well.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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