Monday, September 10, 2012

Lauinger's Well-being and Theism

This is a plug for something I just got in the mail: my former student William Lauinger's first book, Well-being and Theism. There is some really nice material in the book.

First, we get a new account of well-being. On the one hand, the literature has natural-law accounts on which something is an aspect of one's well-being provided that it perfects one. On the other hand, there are desire-fulfillment theories on which something is an aspect of one's well-being provided that one desires it, or would desire it under appropriate conditions. Lauinger criticizes both (I am convinced by the criticism of desire-fulfillment but not of the natural-law accounts), and then makes a move that normally would be a non-starter but is surprisingly promising here: he conjoins the two by saying that something is an aspect of one's well-being provided it perfects one and satisfies a desire. The criticisms of desire-fulfillment accounts of well-being are very powerful, and ever since reading them in Lauinger's dissertation they have shaped much of my thinking about desire-fulfillment theories.

There is also some really helpful empirically-grounded material in the book arguing that non-standard cases where adults lack desires for basic goods like friendship and health are either much more rare than one might think or non-existent.

The book comes to a completion with (a) an argument that neither evolutionary nor Aristotelian groundings for the perfectionist aspects of the account as satisfactory unless supplemented with theism and (b) discussion of our desires as a desires for something infinite.

I only wish the book wasn't so expensive.

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