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Volume 51 • Number 1

January 2014



Whole-Life Welfarism

by Ben Bramble

According to welfarism about value (hereafter simply welfarism), something is good (or bad) only if it is good (or bad) for somebody—that is, makes somebody better off (or worse off) in some way. Welfarism is a popular view among contemporary philosophers. Many find it hard to see how something that benefits nobody could be the least bit valuable or worth bringing about, or how something that harms nobody could be the least bit disvaluable or worth preventing. What few philosophers seem to have noticed is that welfarism can be formulated in two importantly different ways, depending on whether one has in mind momentary. wellbeing (i.e., how well off one is at a particular time) or lifetimeI well-being (i.e., the welfare value of one’s life considered as a whole). According to what I will call at-a-time welfarism, something is good (or bad) only if it makes somebody better off (or worse off) in some way at a particular time—that is, increases (or decreases) somebody’s momentary well-being in some way.

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ISSN: 2152-1123