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The main argument of the book is as follows: (i) the concept of well-being as the highest prudential good is internally coherent and widely held; (ii) well-being thus conceived requires an objectively worthwhile life; (iii) in turn, such a life requires autonomy and reality-orientation, i.e., a disposition to think for oneself, seek truth or understanding about important aspects of one's own life and human life in general, and act on this understanding when circumstances permit; (iv) to the extent that someone is successful in achieving understanding and acting on it, she is realistic, and to the extent that she is realistic, she is virtuous; (v) hence, well-being as the highest prudential good requires virtue. But complete virtue is impossible for both psychological and epistemic reasons, and this is one reason why complete well-being is impossible.
Neera Badhwar is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma.
Table of Contents
Part I: Well-Being
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Well-Being as the Highest Prudential Good
Chapter 3: Well-Being: From Subjectivity to Objectivity
Part II: Autonomy, Realism, and Virtue
Chapter 4: Autonomy and Reality-Orientation
Chapter 5: Is Realism Really Bad for You? A Realistic Response
Chapter 6: Virtue
Part III: Well-Being and Virtue
Chapter 7: Happy Villains and Stoic Sages, External Goods, and the Primacy of Virtue
Chapter 8: Taking Stock