The Good Life: My Argument for the Objective List Theory

What value theory do you subscribe to?

The value theory I have adopted is the objective list theory. I chose this theory of well-being by process of elimination. I do not believe the desire theory is reasonable, because it has several difficulties that I cannot overlook. Now, I must consider hedonism and the objective list theory. Hedonism is attractive in the sense that it allows the individual to decide what constitutes their own well-being, and explains why there are so many different paths to happiness (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Yet, as Foot’s [lobotomy] example pointed out, happiness does not always equate to a good life. You can be happy, but be lacking in other aspects that are an important part of the human experience. The arguments that I found to be truly compelling were the Argument from False Happiness, and the Argument from Autonomy (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Of course, I desire to be happy, some of this happiness comes from fulfilling my desires, but I would not consider the relinquishment of autonomy or truth an adequate price to pay for happiness. Awareness of the presence of paternalism or deception would greatly affect my happiness. Therefore, happiness is intrinsically valuable, but it is not sufficient for a good life. I chose the objective list theory because I believe there are things that make our lives good, even if we do not value them, or believe they will benefit our lives. I do not believe our desires always contribute to well-being, because these desires could be influenced by culture, lack of self-worth, lack of education/understanding, or a combination of two or more of these factors. Of course, I do not believe I have composed an exhaustive list of what is intrinsically valuable, but I have tentatively identified a few.

1.       Virtue

2.       Autonomy

3.       Happiness

4.       Knowledge

5.       Achievement

6.       Truth

Why Objective List Theory?

As I stated above, I found several manifest deficiencies in the desire theory. The issues I found to be most obvious are that desire theory does not take into account the desires of people who have been psychologically sculpted to desire things that obviously not contribute to their well-being, or how most of us don’t really know what we truly desire, as John McEnroe’s autobiography exemplified (Shafer-Landau, 2015). I could not adopt Hedonism because I cannot accept happiness is sufficient to a good life—the experience machine objection expertly argues this point. I believe truth, autonomy, achievement, knowledge, happiness, and virtue to be intrinsically valuable, and I am prepared to sacrifice happiness in some instances to gain other things of intrinsic value.

What arguments against the objective list theory concern you?

I do not find any of the criticisms of the objective list theory to be troubling. However, I do believe it might be counterintuitive for some people to believe that something you do not value or desire could make your life better. I would argue this point by noting that knowledge is by definition something you know. If you do not know of it, you cannot desire it, but knowledge is something that makes your life better once you attain it.

References:

Shafer-Landau, R. (2015). Fundamentals of Ethics. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

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