Looking Good or Feeling Well? Understanding the Combinations of Well-Being Indicators Using Insights from the Philosophy of Well-Being

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Abstract

In the context of the broad question of the combination of different indicators of social well-being, this paper points to a distinction between four normative approaches to social well-being. The paper identifies this distinction as a path for pursuing distinct legitimate interpretations of the concept, and hence of its measurement. Analyzing the four approaches—subjectivist, objectivist, pluralist and QSH, inspired by four parallel theories in the philosophy of (individual) well-being—imparts clarity to the act of aggregation. Each approach results in different weighing schemes. The paper analyses these four approaches and their significance for the issue at hand, thereby establishing grounds for a non-arbitrary interpretation of the data represented by indicators and non-arbitrary choice between indices. A particular contribution of the paper is defining and exemplifying the QSH approach, at the heart of which is the normative conviction that a society is not better off unless both subjective and objective aspects have been improved.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Volume150
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Hybrid approach
  • Indicators aggregation
  • Life-satisfaction
  • Objective-list
  • Objectivism
  • Philosophy of well-being
  • Pluralism
  • Subjectivism
  • Well-being indicators

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences

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