Hi prof, what is the difference between value theory and normative theory? whats the diff between good vs bad (value) and morally good/morally bad(normative)?

The short answer is that the matter of W02 is the good/bad while the subject of W03 is right/wrong. I’ll revisit this in W03.

What do we mean by morally correct if it is not subject to criticism? Since what is morally correct is subject to each other’s point of view (so everyone’s criticism?)

If you really did what is objectively right, then, you are not–rationally, deservingly–subject to criticism. This might not stop others from criticizing you, of course, since they might not have the correct beliefs. I should make this clearer in W03.

If not every part of morality is subjective, how then do we define the boundaries/subtleties between what is subjective and what is the truth?

This is just another way of asking–what are the true moral claims? And secondly, how do we know that these are the true moral claims? Taking morality broadly to include both Value and Normative concerns, a theory of Well-being is an attempt to provide an answer to a part of the first question. Likewise, a theory of right action (the matter of W03) will be an attempt to provide an answer to another part of the same question. The second question is going to be harder since we haven’t started grappling with the idea of knowledge. However, there is a sense in which the ideas and arguments in W02-W06 will side step it–by deliberating starting from things we already intuitively convinced of. This will be especially obvious in W04-W06.

does ought imply can?

Some people do. Purely for your interest–I’m not entirely sure myself. I think it will depend on what sort of “ought” and what sort of “can” we are talking about. I personally don’t see why someone cannot be thought of as “ought to do something” even though she can’t–at least on some interpretations of “ought” and “can”.

are there cases where one person’s diminished well-being can benefit the well-being of society?

Should we also consider the society that we are in when contemplating the theories of well-being so that we are also accounting for other individual’s well-being. Otherwise, what if our individual’s well-being imposes on that of another?

A bunch of related concerns–all very good.

First, yes, the world could really be such that–sometimes–Ah Beng’s well-being increases at the expense of Ah’s Lian’s well-being, or for that matter, everyone body else’s well-being. Second, apart from individual well-being, we need to also talk about the well-being of the collective. And it’s not always clear if the latter is just the sum of the member’s well-being. Is it obviously true that what’s good for the collective considered as a whole is just whatever is good for the members? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. If it’s not just the sum, how can we sensibly talk about the well-being of the group?

As you might imagine, this is a serious issue of discussion among welfare economists (suddenly, the fact that Hausman–the author of your reading–works at the intersection of philosophy and economics becomes less accidental). In any case, there’s nothing in the basic theories we introduced which assumes that a conflict between individual well-being and collective well-being cannot happen. Whether it does depend on the nature of the world we live in–whether, for instance, there is a relative scarcity of resources (needed for our individual well-being) and potential conflict of interest. But this isn’t a problem with our theories–it may just be the reality of the world we live in.

theories of well-being seem to concern personal interests a lot, though. if i believe that i have a duty to benefit others, and i’ve to do it at the expense of my own well-being, what then?

should the theories of well-being be concerned with individuals in isolation? or must they consider the compounded effects of their lives as a society? e.g. what if people’s desires are in conflict, how should desire satisfaction theory say whose desire should be fulfilled?

Do we look at societal benefit (Eg: good health, free time, sleep, financial status) to define the list? In a sense could that provide a good compromise as to what people deem as well-being?

One way well-being can become concerned with “the compounded effects of their lives” is when we bring into the discussion the other part of moral philosophy–normative theory. here’s an intuitive thought: it’s all good and well for you and you and I to want to live well, do well, individually. But surely we shouldn’t do it by breaking the moral rules regulating our inter-personal interactions, or just any action that has an effect on other people?–you might think. In W03, you’ll see two quite different theories of right and wrong that will have different ways to deal with the above.

Another way in which our individual well-being may become entangled with the well-being of the collective–or at the very least, the well-being of others–is if it turns out that, e.g., living as a proper member of a society is itself an intrinsic good (or at least very close to it, perhaps a necessary condition for an intrinsic good). Or just having friends. If friendship really is an intrinsic good–and I mean friendship, not just “believing that you have friends”, or “having the mental experience of having friends”–then there will be a necessary (even if partial) harmony between individual¬† well-being and the well-being of others, and beyond that, the well-being of society. This way out, however, is not easily squared with mental states theories of well-being since those are irreducibly individual.

A serial killer may have thought they lived a good life after fulfilling their desire of killing many people, but others would say they lived a horrible life. In philosophy, does the judgement of whether you’ve lived a good life determined by the lives of those around him?

One part of the issue is just a version of the issue about moral disagreement–the serial killer, assuming that he is being sincere, believes that he lived an objectively good life, and the rest of us disagree that he did. The second part circles back to the previous discussion–does an individual’s well-being at least partly consist in something about how other people are doing. I would like to argue that the answer is “yes”. Most would probably agree that the answer is in the vicinity of “yes” but not all who have thought about the matter carefully agree on whether an argument can be made for the answer, or exactly how it is that how other people are doing is part of one’s well-being.

isnt objective list theory just a list of the most favored subjective preferences? so how can it be called objective?

could u construct an objective list using instrinsic things to narrow down the objective list?

If that’s the case you don’t quite have an objective list yet–you have at best someone’s “Folk Theory”, which, as I stressed, is not a theory nor does it pretend to be one. And to the second question, not only “yes”, but this is exactly what you are supposed to do.

Would there be aspects of the human condition (biological and physiological needs) that must be fulfilled no matter what to have a good life? For example, enough sleep and enough love/affection. Thus, would these needs be undeniable facts in forming a theory of well-being?

They should if they are intrinsic goods. But otherwise, they are extrinsic goods, likely instrumental goods that are necessary for our being able to enjoy the intrinsic goods. Presumably, given our biology, we need to breath oxygen to live. Without that oxygen, we ain’t gonna have any life, let along a good life! But this can just mean that breathing oxygen is a very important extrinsic good, rather than an intrinsic good.

isn’t the objective list (or lists) derived from specific theories of we’ll-being?

Both the Pleasure/pain Theory and Desire/Preference Satisfaction Theory will–given background assumptions–generate a list of items that are at least extrinsically (or instrumentally) good for people. But the reason why those things are good goes back to their relationship with what’s intrinsically good, according to those theories. But if we are really dealing with an Objective List Theory, the items on the list are intrinsically good–rather than good given the metric provided by those other, more specific theories.

isn’t the objective list theory just a slightly codified form of a single person’s folk theory?

Let’s say that any objective list theory worth it’s salt aspires to do better than just that. Whether they succeed or not in the issue.

Is the pleasure/pain theory a subset of the objective list theory if the only thing on the list is pleasure itself?

Is the Satisfaction theory a bit similar to the “Object list” one? since what we put onto our list is also desires?

In one sense, both Ethical Hedonism and the Desire/Preference Satisfaction theories are sort of “Objective List” theories–where the “list” has basically one item. But this is only a trivial point. The more serious divide is whether the theory tries to tell a complete story by reducing all the supposedly intrinsic goods to basically one–it’s all about the balance of pleasure over pain, it’s all about desire (or preference) satisfaction. So an Objective List theory that is meaningfully different from those two (families of theories) will have multiple items in the list of intrinsic goods without attempting to reduce them to a common thing. So, in a sense, yes–

Would this intuitionist approach actually serve better for societal outlooks of wellbeing to accommodate plurality, and hence trump more narrow conceptions that seem to be preferred when discussing individual well-being?

Though at the cost of a more complex theory that will inevitably feel more ad-hoc compared to theories that are “monistic” (only one factor). Also, don’t forget that for the theory to be fully fleshed out, we will still need the overall story about how the different items relate to each other, the how much of each for an individual for the person to live well, etc.

Also–though this is something more complicated than I really need for the purposes of the module–not all OLTs are intuitionistic or see themselves as epistemically justified because they properly systematize our intuitions, or in a more sophisticated vein, our considered convictions under reflective equilibrium. Some (for instance Aristotle and his modern successors; but conceivably some of the ancient Confucians as well) see the items on the list as justifiably belonging on the list because together, they constitutes the perfection of human nature. Note, however, that this doesn’t make such a theory any less of a “List” theory–the list is a list of intrinsic goods; “perfection of human nature” isn’t itself some master intrinsic good–it’s the explanation for why these are the intrinsic goods. But as I said, this is way more complicated that what I need, or even want for the purposes of the module. If you are keen, you can read up on “perfectionism”.

if there are many different individual objective lists in the theory, does that make the theory itself subjective?

This may be due to a misunderstanding of what I said at W02 Slide #18–each separate list is a separate, and competing Objective List Theory–and all of them aspire to be objective. Whether any of them succeed is a different story.

If someone has a sadistic nature and has a list of things that may be considered as evil but makes them happy, would that add to the Objective List as well?

In principle, that person (let’s call him Jack, a.k.a., “the ripper”) is welcome to propose an Objective List theory in which the relevant items appear. To the extent that it’s meant to be an Objective List Theory–Jack’s OLT–it says that the items on the list are objectively intrinsically good for us. On the other hand, if the list of things are things that make Jack happy, then it’s a list of things that make Jack happy–no comments on whether they (those things) are intrinsically good.

Can we have an example of a list from a specific Objective List theory?

J. S. Mill may qualify though this is controversial. He seemed to have both thought that pleasure (and the prevention of pain) is intrinsically good, and that autonomy (or originality) is also an intrinsic good. Aristotle is best thought of as holding an Objective List Theory–his list consists of a list of the character virtues the expression of which makes it the case that we are living well, doing well–flourishing, “happy” (eudaimon).