A Philosophy for the Science of Well-Being

ISBN : 9780197598894

Anna Alexandrova
248 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
May 2021
Send mail

Well-being, happiness and quality of life are now established objects of social and medical research. Does this science produce knowledge that is properly about well-being? What sort of well-being? The definition and measurement of these objects rest on assumptions that are partly normative, partly empirical and partly pragmatic, producing a great diversity of definitions depending on the project and the discipline. This book, written from the perspective of philosophy of science, formulates principles for the responsible production and interpretation of this diverse knowledge. Traditionally, philosophers' goal has been a single concept of well-being and a single theory about what it consists in. But for science this goal is both unlikely and unnecessary. Instead the promise and authority of the science depends on it focusing on the well-being of specific kinds of people in specific contexts. Skeptical arguments notwithstanding, this contextual well-being can be measured in a valid and credible way - but only if scientists broaden their methods to make room for normative considerations and address publicly and inclusively the value-based conflicts that inevitably arise when a measure of well-being is adopted. The science of well-being can be normative, empirical and objective all at once, provided that we line up values to science and science to values.


Part 1: Tools for Philosophy
1. Is There a Single Concept of Well-Being?
2. Is There a Single Theory of Well-Being?
3. How to Build a Theory: The Case of Child Well-Being
Part 2: Tools for Science
4. Can the Science of Well-Being Be Objective?
5. Is Well-Being Measurable?
6. Psychometrics as Theory Avoidance
Appendix A
Appendix B
Works Cited

About the author: 

Anna Alexandrova is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King's College, having previously taught at the University of Missouri St Louis. She writes on philosophy of social sciences, especially economic modelling, explanation, and the sciences of well-being. She was a recipient of the Philosophy of Science Association Recent PhD Essay Prize.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.