1st Edition

The Philosophy of Well-Being An Introduction

By Guy Fletcher Copyright 2016
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    Well-being occupies a central role in ethics and political philosophy, including in major theories such as utilitarianism. It also extends far beyond philosophy: recent studies into the science and psychology of well-being have propelled the topic to centre stage, and governments spend millions on promoting it. We are encouraged to adopt modes of thinking and behaviour that support individual well-being or 'wellness'.

    What is well-being? Which theories of well-being are most plausible? In this rigorous and comprehensive introduction to the topic, Guy Fletcher unpacks and assesses these questions and many more, including:

    • Are pleasure and pain the only things that affect well-being?
    • Is desire-fulfilment the only thing that makes our lives go well?
    • Can something be good for someone who does not desire it?
    • Is well-being fundamentally connected to a distinctive human nature?
    • Is happiness all that makes our lives go well?
    • Is death necessarily bad for us?
    • How is the well-being of a whole life related to well-being at particular times?

    Annotated further reading and study and comprehension questions follow each chapter, and a glossary of key terms is also included, making The Philosophy of Well-Being essential reading for students of ethics and political philosophy. This title is also suitable for those in related disciplines such as psychology, politics and sociology.


    1. Hedonism 

    2. Desire-fulfillment Theory 

    3. Objective List theories 

    4. Perfectionist theories of well-being 

    5. The Happiness Theory of Well-Being 

    6. Hybrid Theories of Well-Being 

    7. Well-Being and the Shape of a Life 

    8. Well-Being and Death 


    List of Cases 




    Guy Fletcher is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, UK. His current research is in metaethics, moral psychology and political philosophy. He is also the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being (2016).

    'An excellent advanced introduction to philosophical theories of well-being. It surveys the main theories and important arguments in the literature, and does so with impressive clarity and a flare for entertaining and illustrative examples. Highly recommended.' - Valerie Tiberius, University of Minnesota, USA

    'Guy Fletcher’s introduction to well-being is everything such a book should be: lively, clear, and comprehensive. If I were teaching an undergraduate course on well-being, this is the book I would choose. If I were a student in such a course, this is the book I would want my professor to choose.' - Neera K. Badhwar, University of Oklahoma, USA

    'This crisply written, rigorous and reliable book is the go-to guide for anyone interested in contemporary theories of Well-being and Happiness. Fletcher’s masterful overview of the key topics will be immensely useful to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, psychologists, and economists.' - Bradford Cokelet, University of Miami, USA

    'An extremely welcome addition to the literature on well-being. Fletcher shows great judgement in choice of topics, and takes readers straight to the heart of current philosophical controversies. His discussion is even-handed, well-informed, sophisticated, up-to-date, and clear. Students and scholars will gain a great deal from using this book. It is very highly recommended.' - Christopher Woodard, University of Nottingham, UK

    'This is a thorough and engaging discussion of philosophical approaches to and dimensions of well-being. Fletcher’s keen eye for technical analysis and creative use of examples combine to make an engaging and important resource for undergraduates and anyone interested in learning about well-being.' - Lorraine L. Besser, Middlebury College, USA