Well-being: A Reflective Equilibrium

  • Annie AustinEmail author
Part of the Wellbeing in Politics and Policy book series (WPP)


The question of what it means to live well has been debated in the public forum for millennia, and continues to occupy a central place in politics and policy. The starting hypothesis of this study was that, if people across the world, from different cultures, languages and worldviews, share common values, and if these overlap with philosophical theories of well-being, then this is evidence that there are good reasons and reason to value those things. This chapter brings together the different strands of analysis to identify common ground between theoretical and practical accounts of well-being. The final analysis shows that good social relationships are a necessary condition of all the other constituents of a good life. Happiness and freedom require other people, and good health, work, education and leisure are grounded in meaningful, mutually respectful social connections. Belonging—the sharing of identities, interests and ends with others—grounds well-being. For politics and policy, focusing on Sociality would reap dividends: Good social relationships are a catalyst of overall well-being. The biggest lesson for politics and policy is that the journey Beyond GDP should be directed towards building a sound infrastructure of sociality to underpin well-being.


Values Well-being Sociality Beyond GDP 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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