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“All’s well that ends well!” subjective wellbeing: an epistemic enquiry

  • Pillai N., Vijayamohanan
  • B. P., Asalatha
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    Wellbeing in general is represented in terms of the quality of life of an individual or group. The different objective and subjective indicators that go into the composition of quality of life leave its definition and measurement elusive, despite its global recognition as a policy goal. Attempts at an objective measure have brought out two basic methodological alternatives. The first, objective, measure has come out as the famous Physical Quality of Life Index, supplanted now by the Human Development Index. The second one, dealing with subjective wellbeing, focuses upon self-reported levels of happiness, pleasure, fulfillment etc. The present study, divided into five sections, is an epistemic enquiry into subjective wellbeing. After the introductory remarks, section 2 presents the recent discussions in the theory of subjective wellbeing, especially in terms of life satisfaction and domain satisfaction and their relationship. Section 3 introduces the concepts of Hedonism and Eudaimonia in the notion of wellbeing; one’s life goes well to the extent that one is contented with it (hedonistic element); at the same time, it is the term wellbeing’, not the term ‘happiness’, that denotes the notion of what makes life good for the individual living that life (eudaimonia). Section 4 traces the development of the concept of wellbeing in terms of Utilitarian philosophy in the 18th century and section 5 discusses wellbeing in the context of the theory of justice. The next section presents the capabilities approach of Sen and Nussbaum in the wellbeing framework. While Rawls limited his analysis of social welfare to the ‘social primary goods’ that rational humans need or desire, and ‘negative freedoms’ that involve the absence of interference, the capabilities approach of Sen and Nussbaum expanded on the base of Rawlsian philosophy to include ‘positive freedoms’ as well, like freedom from being constrained by poverty or a lack of education.

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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 45004.

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    Date of creation: 01 Mar 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:45004
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    1. Bruno S. Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, . "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not only What, but also How Matters," IEW - Working Papers 129, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Richard Layard, 2006. "Happiness and public policy: a challenge to the profession," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47483, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    7. Ulrich Schimmack & Jürgen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2008. "The Influence of Environment and Personality on the Affective and Cognitive Component of Subjective Well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 89(1), pages 41-60, October.
    8. John Tomer, 2002. "Human Well-Being: A New Approach Based on Overall and Ordinary Functionings," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 60(1), pages 23-45.
    9. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    10. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
    11. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    12. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
    13. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
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