Jennifer Hawkins F'20

Jennifer  Hawkins
Associate Research Professor
Philosophy
Duke University

ACLS Fellowship Program 2020
Associate Research Professor
Philosophy
Duke University
A New Theory of Well-Being

This book defends an original theory of personal well-being, i.e. a theory of what makes lives better or worse. The first part focuses on philosophical psychology, introducing the notion of an affective perspective—an affectively shaped way of seeing the world. Happiness (it is argued) is best characterized as a positive affective perspective whereas certain forms of emotional suffering are best characterized as negative affective perspectives. This is key to explaining the positive (or negative) value of each, respectively. The second part defends a normative theory, according to which there are two important elements that account for most of a life's positive value: happiness and standing in the right relationship to the things one cares most about. The third part considers practical implications of the view, for example what it implies about the welfare of individuals historically ignored by theorists of well-being, such as those with cognitive impairment.