The values-based approach to welfare holds that it is good for one to realize goals, activities, and relationships with which one strongly (and stably) identifies. This approach preserves the subjectivity of welfare while affirming that a life well lived must be active, engaged, and subjectively meaningful. As opposed to more objective theories, it is unified, naturalistic, and ontologically parsimonious. However, it faces objections concerning the possibility of self-sacrifice, disinterested and paradoxical values, and values that are out of sync with physical and emotional needs. This paper revises the values-based approach, emphasizing the important—but limited—role consciously held values play in human agency. The additional components of human agency in turn explain why it is important for one’s values to cohere with one’s fixed drives, hardwired emotional responses, and nonvolitionally guided cognitive processes. This affords promising responses to the objections above.


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pp. 187-214
Launched on MUSE
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