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1. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Gwen Bradford Introduction: A Very Brief History of Ill-Being
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2. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Christopher Woodard The Value and Significance of Ill-Being
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Since Shelly Kagan pointed out the relative neglect of ill-being in philosophical discussions, several philosophers have contributed to an emerging literature on its constituents. In doing so, they have explored possible asymmetries between the constituents of ill-being and the constituents of positive well-being. This paper explores some possible asymmetries that may arise elsewhere in the philosophy of ill-being. In particular, it considers whether there is an asymmetry between the contribution made to prudential value by equal quantities of goods and bads. It then considers a similar question about the contributions made to moral value by equal quantities of ill-being and positive well-being. The paper explores some of the difficulties involved in assessing these questions. It ends by considering broader differences, both practical and theoretical, between the significance of ill-being and of positive well-being.
3. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Ben Bramble Passé Pains
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Why are pains bad for us? A natural answer is that it is just because of how they feel (or their felt-qualities). But this answer is cast into doubt by cases of people who are unbothered by certain pains of theirs. These pains retain their felt-qualities, but do not seem bad for the people in question. In this paper, I offer a new response to this problem. I argue that in such cases, the pains in question have become “just more of the same,” and for this reason have ceased to be bad for the relevant individuals. It is because they (implicitly) recognise this that they are unbothered by such pains.
4. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Chris Heathwood Ill-Being for Desire Satisfactionists
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Shelly Kagan notices in a recent, influential paper how philosophers of well-being tend to neglect ill-being—the part of the theory of well-being that tells us what is bad in itself for subjects—and explains why we need to give it more attention. This paper does its part by addressing the question, If desire satisfaction is good, what is the corresponding bad? The two most discussed ill-being options for theories on which desire satisfaction is a basic good are the Frustration View and the Aversion View. I aim to show that the Frustration View is more plausible than Kagan and others think; to introduce and evaluate two additional desire-oriented theories of ill-being worth considering, the Pluralist View and the Deflationary View; and to present a new line of argument for the Aversion View.
5. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Eden Lin Two Kinds of Desire Theory of Well-Being
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Which entities should the desire theory of well-being deem basically good for you—good for you in the most fundamental way? On the object view, what is basically good for you when one of your desires is satisfied is the object of that desire. On the combo view, what is basically good for you when one of your desires is satisfied is the combination or conjunction of the object of that desire and the fact that you have that desire. I argue that which of these views the desire theory accepts makes no difference to what it implies about anyone’s amount of well-being. Then, I consider the main arguments that have been given for the superiority of one or the other of those two views. Finding none of those arguments persuasive, I conclude that we lack good grounds for rejecting the initial impression that it would be natural to have about those views: that it does not matter which of them the desire theory accepts.
6. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Dale Dorsey Ill-Being for Subjectivists: An Ecumenical Primer
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The axiological phenomenon of ill-being has been thought to be a special problem for subjectivist theories. I argue here that this common supposition is false. I argue that no leading theory of subjectivism need be unable to accommodate the phenomenon of ill-being. In addition, subjectivists on the whole are licensed to adopt somewhat more outré alternatives, including adopting a disunified approach to ill-being, or rejecting the notion altogether.
7. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Anthony Kelley Subjective Theories of Ill-Being
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According to subjectivism about ill-being, the token states of affairs that are basically bad for you must be suitably connected, under the proper conditions, to your negative attitudes. This article explores the prospects for this family of theories and addresses some of its challenges. This article (i) shows that subjectivism about ill-being can be derived from a more general doctrine that requires a negatively valenced relationship between any welfare subject and the token states that are of basic harm to that subject and (ii) responds to some objections, including the objection that subjectivists about ill-being cannot plausibly explain the badness of pain.
8. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Jennifer Hawkins Subjectivists Should Say: Pain Is Bad Because of How It Feels
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What is the best way to account for the badness of pain and what sort of theory of welfare is best suited to accommodate this view? I argue that unpleasant sensory experiences are prudentially bad in the absence of contrary attitudes, but good when the object of positive attitudes. Pain is bad unless it is liked, enjoyed, valued etc. Interestingly, this view is incompatible with either pure objectivist or pure subjectivist understandings of welfare. However, there is a kind of welfare theory that can incorporate this view of the badness of pain and which is very, very close to being a form of subjectivism. Moreover, this hybrid account of welfare is entirely compatible with the deep motivations of subjectivism. I therefore argue that those who lean towards welfare subjectivism should adopt this account of pain, and that we should revise our understanding of subjectivism to count such theories as subjective.
9. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Valerie Tiberius, Colin G. DeYoung Pain, Depression, and Goal-Fulfillment Theories of Ill-Being
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The idea that what is intrinsically good for people must be something they want or care about is a compelling one. Goal-fulfillment theories of well-being, which make this idea their central tenet, have a lot going for them. They offer a good explanation of why we tend to be motivated to pursue what’s good for us, and they seem to best explain how well-being is especially related to individual subjects. Yet such theories have been under attack recently for not being able to account for robust or basic bads, such as pain and nausea. This paper argues that a psychologically informed goal-fulfillment theory can accommodate intuitions about robust bads by relying on aversions. Attending to aversion highlights a different sort of problem for goal-fulfillment theories, which comes from the possibility of a person who is so depressed that they have no goals or desires at all. We end the paper with a discussion of how empirically informed goal-fulfillment theories can account for the badness of the most serious form of depression.
10. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Jason Raibley Less than Zero?: Ill-Being, Robust Bads, and the Value-Fulfillment Theory
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Adequate theories of well-being must also explain ill-being. While it is formally possible to explain ill-being without postulating robust bads, certain experiential states do qualify as robust bads and thus require theoretical recognition. Experiential bads are recognized by some hedonists, experientialists, and pluralists, but these theories face well-known difficulties. This paper considers whether perfectionist and value-fulfillment accounts of well-being can accommodate such bads. Perfectionists might propose that we all have the avoidance of negative experiential states as a standing end, so that failure to avoid them is robustly bad. This view is unacceptable. A version of the value-fulfillment theory can instead say that such experiential states are intrinsically aversive, so that enduring them represents diminished agential functioning. After explaining this version of the value-fulfillment theory, this paper considers possible objections to it relating to “hurts so good” experiences, appropriate negative emotions, and the aggregative value of experiential goods.
11. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Guy Fletcher A Painful End for Perfectionism?
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This paper examines perfectionist attempts to explain the prudential badness of pain (its badness for those who experience it). It starts by considering simple perfectionist explanations, finding them wanting, before considering the most sophisticated perfectionist attempt to explain prudential badness: Gwen Bradford’s tripartite perfectionism. The paper argues that Bradford’s view, though an improvement on earlier perfectionist proposals, still does not satisfactorily explain the full set of prudentially bad pains. It ends by showing how this provides grounds for a general kind of pessimism about perfectionism and the badness of pain and how this case undermines a general purported advantage of perfectionism over the objective list theory.
12. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Antti Kauppinen Epistemic Welfare Bads and Other Failures of Reason
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There is something important missing in our lives if we are thoroughly ignorant or misled about reality—even if intervention or fantastic luck prevents unhappiness and practical failure. But why? I argue that perfectionism about well-being offers the most promising explanation. My version says, roughly, that we flourish when we exercise our self-defining capacities successfully according to their constitutive aims. One of them is Reason, our capacity for normative self-governance. In its practical use, Reason’s formal constitutive aim is competently realizing self-chosen valuable ends that are in harmony with each other. In its theoretical use, Reason formally aims at competently grasping fundamental enough subject matters, or a kind of understanding. Because success by reason’s own standards requires many things to go right, there are many different ways in which we can fall short. Some of them constitute partial success, but others, like incompetent inquiry that fails to yield understanding of its target, are robust failures that amount to epistemic or agential unflourishing, and thus to a form of ill-being.
13. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Anne Baril Doxastic Harm
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In this article, I will consider whether, and in what way, doxastic states can harm. I’ll first consider whether, and in what way, a person’s doxastic state can harm her, before turning to the question of whether, and in what way, it can harm someone else.
14. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Teresa Bruno-Niño Ill-Being as Hating the Bad?
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Theories of well-being that I call “loving-the-good” claim that one intrinsically benefits if and only if one loves what is objectively good. For these views, well-being comes to be when the correct connection between world and mind obtains. Intuitively, ill-being is the opposite of well-being. I explore the resources of loving-the-good views to explain ill-being, especially whether they can do so and also meet the theoretical virtues of continuity and unity. Continuity is met when ill-being theory mirrors the well-being theory. Unity is met when all instances of a phenomenon are given the same kind of explanation. I argue that, strikingly, the key insight of loving-the-good theories of well-being does not seem plausible for ill-being. A consequence is that loving-the-good theories face significant problems to meet continuity. I examine alternatives for these views to meet unity. I argue that plausible explanations of ill-being do not meet unity either.
15. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Cheryl Abbate On the Ill-Being of Animals: From Factory Farm to Forever Home
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Animal welfare theorists tend to assume that most animals in captivity—especially those living in our homes and in sanctuaries—can, with sufficient care and environmental enrichment, live genuinely good lives. This misguided belief stems from the view that animal well-being should be assessed only in terms of the felt experiences of animals. Against this view, I argue that in assessing how well an animal’s life is going, we ought to consider two distinct kinds of welfare: experiential welfare and subject welfare. Once we take seriously the notion of subject welfare, which pertains to the non-sentient nature of animals, we will be forced to accept the unfortunate reality that most, if not all, animals in confinement—including those living in our homes and in sanctuaries—fare quite poorly and live lives that should be characterized as having overall ill-being.
16. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Molly Gardner Suffering and Meaning in the Lives of Wild Animals
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This article advances some considerations that undermine the overall justification for what I call “beneficent interventions,” or interventions aimed at reducing the suffering of wild animals. I first appeal to Susan Wolf’s (2010) account of meaning in life to argue that wild animals can and do have meaning in their lives. I then argue that the meaning in animal lives can offset their suffering, making their lives more worth living. This source of positive value in the lives of wild animals undermines some of the justification for those beneficent interventions that aim to reduce wild animal suffering by reducing the numbers of wild animals who either suffer or inflict suffering upon others.
17. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Roger Crisp Pessimism about the Future
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Many, probably most, people are optimists about the future, believing that the extinction of sentient life on earth would be, overall, bad. This paper suggests that pessimism about the future is no less reasonable than optimism. The argument rests on the possibility of ‘discontinuities’ in value, in particular the possibility that there may be some things so bad—such as agonizing torture—such that no amount of good can compensate for them. The ‘spectrum’ problem often raised in connection with alleged discontinuities is then discussed, along with the claim that moments of agonizing torture, spread out over a long period, can be compensated by great goods. Some difficulties with articulating the badness of agonizing torture are explained. The paper ends with a discussion of the ethical implications of pessimism, concluding that, as far as sentient life on earth is concerned, pessimists may agree with optimists that it should be protected, but for quite different reasons.
18. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
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19. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Published Volumes
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historical perspectives
20. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 45
Julianne Chung Doubting Perspectives and Creative Doubt
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Doubt (especially self-doubt) is often considered to be an enemy of creativity. But, might it be its friend, too? We see, in the Zhuangzi (a fourth century BCE Daoist philosophical classic), a number of explorations that point toward an interesting affirmative answer to this question. To explain how the text can be interpreted as suggesting such an answer, this paper proceeds in two parts. First, in section one, I clarify what is meant by “doubt” for the purposes of this paper, as well as several ways in which it can be directed toward its relevant target: entire perspectives (rather than merely individual propositions or sets of propositions). Following that, in section two, I outline a conception of creativity suggested by aspects of the Zhuangzi, and explain how doubt (in the sense discussed in section one) can engender creativity (in the sense discussed in section two), as well as a few reasons that this matters. I then close by briefly discussing two caveats.