Towards Consensus on Well-Being

  • Timothy Edwin TaylorEmail author
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)


A number of governments and international organisations have begun to adopt well-being as an explicit aim of public policy , and are setting up programmes to measure it . However, there are a number of rival philosophical accounts of well-being , and social scientists also make different assumptions about the nature of well-being, raising the question of what it is that should be measured. The main focus of disagreement between rival theories is on the explanatory question concerning what constitutes well-being . This chapter argues that, even though that disagreement is likely to continue, there is nevertheless a good prospect of identifying areas of common ground regarding the markers of well-being . It shows through examples that what is a constituent of well-being according to one theory may not be so according to another, but may nevertheless be acknowledged as something that tends to be productive of well-being, or to be an indicator of well-being , and thus will still be relevant for the purposes of measurement . Further work is needed to compare the implications of different theories and identify the extent of common ground. Consensus is likely be imperfect and incomplete, but the area of common ground may nevertheless be large enough to form the basis of a set of shared working assumptions about well-being that could underpin the choice of objective and subjective measures to inform public policy .


Human well-being  international organisations Philosophical accounts of well-being Public policy Gross domestic product Measurement of well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied CentreUniversity of LeedsMeltham, West YorksUK

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