Philosophy Tag

In our last game of Philosophy Tag, Valerie Tiberius (Minnesota) tagged Dan Haybron (St. Louis University). Dan has been thinking about well-being lately (haven’t we all?) and that informs his move.

Most theories of well-being are defended entirely by good old-fashioned philosophical reflection. Michael Bishop (Florida State) defends his “network theory” of well-being with an “inclusive” approach that appeals both to traditional philosophical methods and to empirical research in positive psychology. His view is that well-being consists in being embedded in a “positive groove”: a self-reinforcing web of positive traits, states, behaviors and interactions with the world. I believe this account was first published in “The Network Theory of Well-Being: An Introduction” (The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication, October 2012, pp. 1-29), and it will soon get a more extended treatment in a terrific new book, The Good Life: Unifying the Philosophy and Psychology of Well-Being. I think this is a really exciting development in philosophical thinking about well-being, and have recommended it to psychologists as well as philosophers. For my own part, I’m hopeful that something like Bishop’s approach to well-being can help to solve a hard problem in thinking about happiness and well-being: insofar as we are concerned with affective states, what kind of affective profile must one have to count as happy (or, perhaps, doing well)? No one has yet given a plausible answer, but perhaps the key lies with the idea of a positive groove: maybe it’s the sort of affective profile that’s characteristically associated with being in a positive causal network. So, Mike Bishop, you’re it!

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