Defending the Objective List Theory of Well-Being



The objective list theory of well-being holds that a plurality of basic objective goods directly benefit people. These can include goods such as loving relationships, meaningful knowledge, autonomy, achievement, and pleasure. The objective list theory is pluralistic (it does not identify an underlying feature shared by these goods) and objective (the basic goods benefit people independently of their reactive attitudes toward them). In this paper, I discuss the structure of this theory and show how it is supported by people's considered judgments. I then respond to three objections. First, I argue that there is no conceptual reason to favor a monistic theory of well-being over a pluralistic one (such as the objective list theory). Second, I argue that states of affairs can benefit people even though they hold no positive reactive attitudes toward them. And, third, I argue that objective list theorists can identify a fairly-determinate list of basic goods.