Welfare, Meaning, and Worth argues that there is more to what makes a life worth living than welfare, and that a good life does not consist of what is merely good for the one who lives it. Smuts defends an objective list theory that states that the notion of worth captures matters of importance for which no plausible theory of welfare can account. He puts forth that lives worth living are net high in various objective goods, including pleasure, meaning, knowledge, and loving relationships. The first part of the book presents a theory of worth, a mental statist account of welfare, and an objectivist theory of meaning. The second part explores the implications for moral theory, the popularity of painful art, and the viability of pessimism about the human condition. This book offers an original exploration of worth as a combination of welfare and meaning that will be of interest to philosophers and ethicists who work on issues in well-being and positive psychology.
Table of Contents
2. Five Test for Lives Worth Living
3. An Objective List Theory of Worth
4. A Mental Statist Account of Welfare
5. The Good Cause Account of Meaning
6. Against Welfarism about Morality
7. The Value of Painful Art
8. Is Life Worth Living?
Aaron Smuts is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rhode Island College, USA. He is the author of Philosophy of Film: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, forthcoming).
"Smuts has written here a valuable addition to the literatures on welfare, meaning, and worth. His thoroughgoing objectivism about all three matters is distinctive. And there are still not many published accounts of objective goods, fewer accounts of objective bads, and fewer still that develop both of these together in a theory of worth. The book is short, well-structured, clear, and vigorous. To good effect, it makes and draws on a wide range of historical, literary, and filmic connections." – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"This volume is a welcome and innovative addition to the existing analytic literature on the notion of the life worth living (or the good life) and related issues." – Ethics
"We want our lives not merely to be good for ourselves, but to be good, period. In short, we want our lives to be of great worth. But what is it for a life to be of great worth? Smuts’s book answers this question by providing an interesting objective theory of worth, one that entails that worth is a function of welfare and meaning. Anyone interested in the concepts of worth, welfare, and meaning would profit from reading Smuts’s well written book." – William Lauinger, Chestnut Hill College