Erik Angner: Why the Science of Well-Being Needs the Philosophy of Well-Being—and Vice Versa

Erik Angner: Why the Science of Well-Being Needs the Philosophy of Well-Being—and Vice Versa



so thanks everybody for coming I'm Matthew Skelton I teach philosophy here at Western and I want to thank everybody for coming today it also we've come to the other events that was part of our well-being and happiness series I thank you for that it's my great pleasure to be able to introduce this afternoon's speaker our speaker today is Eric he is currently professor of practical philosophy at Stockholm University in Stockholm Sweden of course he has two PhDs one in economics and one in philosophy both from University of Pittsburgh he specializes in both philosophy of science and also in moral philosophy social political issues engaging in particular with the wide range of topics but in particular well-being rationality and social order and seeking to bring philosophical or other kinds of theories about those issues into contact with the most recent and the most relevant science on them reviving the great 19th century tradition of not just doing moral philosophy but what they call the moral Sciences which include political economy and things like that no surprise that some of the great 19th century economists like John Stuart Mill and his father Bentham Sidgwick and others Edgeworth were also really steeped in philosophy Eric's mission as I sentenced to revive that tradition and to make sure that we learn a lot about it today he's published many articles in lots of great journals and also is the author of two books sorry last night I said for because there's some translations of one of them including Hayek and natural law which has got a 13 citations things are much better for his other book which is a course in behavioral economics which has got an Italian translation and also a Chinese translation so markets of vast magnitude are open to him today he's gonna be talking about why the science of well-being meets the philosophy of well-being and vice-versa so please please join me in welcoming our speaker Thank You Anthony and for these kind words it's a it's an honor and a pleasure to be here among so many friends old and new and at the Institute which you guys who are here might not realize I got a good name the Institute has internationally it's it's really a very well-known and highly regarded institution so that's great I particularly grateful to those of you who were came out last night also and get like a grand total of four hours of me speaking about happiness you're very brave today I want to talk about something slightly different from last night basically the project that I want to talk about here represents the sort of massive personal failure so I started writing a book on happiness like some years back and I wrote a complete manuscript to like a 300 page book and whatever and it was almost done it's pretty much done and then I organized a little workshop or some people with impeccable judgment like really nice and good people came to to read my manuscript and give me feedback on it and like everyone hated it and so I had the choice between like publishing it fast and hoping nobody would ever see it or like abandoning the project and so I decided to just like abandon it but then over time I I saw I came to see that there was a thread running through the different chapters of the previous book manuscript that might be worth exploring in in full and it really has to do with the relationship between science and philosophy so at the various ways in which the study of the one thing can inform the study of the other the some extent I guess that's there because it serves to sort of justify my existence as somebody who moves between the sciences and philosophy I get a lot of questions of the nature like what is that like what you even care like what is philosophy matter why should I listen to you and so I spent a lot of time sort of justifying the sort of interdisciplinary worked the attention to the detail scientific theories in methodology and so on in my philosophy and the attention to to philosophy in my in my economics and what I'm trying to do here so there's a synthesis some of these ideas I'll warn you right away that this what I'm giving you today is sort of like a broad-brush a picture each one of the separate arguments is going to need to be fleshed out in great detail but I thought nonetheless that it might be interesting to give you like the the big picture here and then we can get back to the details as you see fit as we see fit I want to start with a quotation from Mary o Bungie and I think is is really nice he wrote in a paper that hasn't been cited as much as it should have been in 1976 that a vigorous and symmetrical interaction between science and philosophy is desirable to close the gap between the two camps and to develop a scientific philosophy and a science with philosophical awareness this is sort of like a nice description of of what I've been trying to do a scientific philosophy and a science with philosophical awareness the picture that I'm going to defend is a picture that looks a little bit like this where philosophy and science are not identical right they're distinct there might be like some Borderlands in between between the two where is that around clear what we're talking about but nonetheless it makes sense to individuate or the separate philosophy from science but I represent them like this side-by-side the signal that no one of these two disciplines dominates the other person stands above the other whatever these are two separate enterprises that can inform each other in the way that these that these arrows indicate so I want to argue that philosophy matters to science and that science matters to philosophy I'll present this argument in the context of my area which is the philosophy and science of well-being but at least some of the points I'll be making are intended to apply more widely might apply to the sciences quite generally because my thesis has two parts because they're two errors in this picture my talk will also be divided in in two and I'll start with what I think of us like the less controversial part of this certainly I imagine in this audience which is this idea that philosophy of well-being is relevant to this is our well-being the philosophical reflection matters even if the only thing you're trying to do is the science of the thing if first off would would anyone deny that philosophy matters yes people would deny that I of the philosophy man here's my favorite example of this it's from a UCLA economist Jack Hirsch lifer who wrote a book called the dark side of the force economic foundations of conflict theory which is about what he calls the economics of the dark side so economics of crime and corruption and so on it's trying to apply the traditional economic modeling to these sort of antisocial any many ways harmful behaviors I think early on in the book he has he has this to say as we come to explore this continent the dark side economists will encounter a number of native tribes historians sociologists psychologists philosophers and so on who in their various intellectually primitive ways have preceded us once we economists get involved quite properly will of course be brushing aside these a theoretical every Aborigines I want to note right away like the decidedly genocide all touched to this passage right there's this Dark Continent right that's occupied by these natives these primitives right to need to be brushed aside you know the moment the economists arrive and like you know try to make sense of this and it's signals like quite clearly I think a shall we say dismissive attitude to philosophy and these other areas now what's interesting about this is that throughout the book he cites people from all these different disciplines and so he notes that he has to explain like how it makes sense to cite philosophers not apologist and so on having said this and so he immediately goes on to say this how do i reconcile these comments with the undoubted fine work being produced by all these other people the answer is simple when these researchers do good work they're doing economics right notice that forth furs don't even appear in the list of intellectually primitive Aborigines and this in this list right but when these people do something that's worthwhile it's because they're doing economics right then they don't get it they don't even know right but what's he doing and so here's I think a good example of somebody who's expressing maybe not like the modal view among economists but nonetheless of you that's pretty common in my experience you hang out with economists 3x famously arrogant they cite other fields less than some many other people do right there sort of insular and in that respect and the and so the attitude captured here's is not is not that unusual but I want to I want to give you now a couple of reasons to think that philosophical reflection is critical not just like useful at times but absolutely critical to do this kind of enterprise and not just because philosophers can act as some sort of proto or primitive economist but that that they actually matter as as philosophers okay here we go so here's the first reason I want to talk about the first reason is that the philosophical literature is actually a goldmine for empirical hypotheses so if you read classical philosophical literature I mean if you read a Aristotle or she read the classical utilitarians or whatever these texts are full of empirical hypotheses of various kinds many of them are actually quite interesting and many of them have not been picked up by actual scientists now I'm not suggesting we look at Aristotle is this like keikis word for it but if I may use the old-fashioned distinction between a context of discovery in the context of justification when you're in the context of discovery you're generating hypotheses to explore looking at these philosophers is actually that is potentially a pretty good idea they were acute observers of human nature they're very perceptive they spend a lot of time thinking and reading and writing about this and so we have we have good reason to pay attention to what they're saying now you don't need to take my word for it you can take the word of George Loewenstein for example who's one of the leading behavioral economists and somebody who's done a lot of work on unhappiness he says it's perhaps an indication of the Glacial progress of social science that decision researchers and behavioural economists have only recently began to appreciate the importance of the full range of human motives enumerated by Bentham and the principles of morals and legislation right so Bentham here this is not an obscure treatise right but what he's saying is that there are ideas here they're worth exploring for contemporary scientists that we haven't yet picked up on and so what this is suggesting is on the margin if you're a scientist and you want to pick up on some new ideas to explore you know this is a place why where you might go so that's that's one reason to pay attention to the to the there's no in this case it's easy to say that what these philosophers were we're doing were just like some primitive form of social science right social science didn't exist as such during that this year certainly not during Aristotle's year but there are other reasons as well so let me move on to the second reason to think that philosophy matters so scientists have to depend on normative and therefore philosophical assumption assumptions to a remarkably large degrees if you read people who publish on happiness for example the policy applications live large very many of the papers will start off with some comment about policy the deficiency of the GDP as a measure of well-being the importance of maximizing well-being in our personal lives and in policy and so on and so these questions about how the world ought to be and what we ought to do to make the world a better place loom very large in the literature ok I'm depending here obviously on some sort of distinction between the descriptive and the normative that I imagine you'll you'll indoors as well there are other ways to sort of capture the same idea here's a formulation I like to this from Rebecca goals naina says there are two kinds of questions what is and what matters I like this formulation because it signals that what word suggests that one of the things that matter to science is what matters to human beings when scientists choose what to study for example it's not wouldn't be unusual for scientists to study things that they believe matter but that's an obvious normative question what are the things that matter and it's a sort of saying that as a normative claim presumably philosophy has something to say about the principles underlying public policy implications are obviously normative obviously philosophical in that respect right feeling you're gonna get from empirical findings to some sort of policy you need some sort of normative criterion you need you need to assess what it means for an individual to be well off you need to assess what's good for a society you need to assess the relative value of you know maximizing welfare and promoting equality and you need to assess things that have to do with justice and fairness and what and all these questions are clearly philosophical nature and they're questions that floss social scientists including economists and psychologists deal with a lot in a way that's by and large not particularly informed by philosophies if you read so many of the happiness economists you'll find people who without any hesitation that's obvious from the text will endorse Bentham as the last word of moral philosophy and so Richard Laird for example at London School of Economics will tell you that Bentham was right about maximizing happiness and we should ruthlessly apply his principle in our personal lives and in in policy right there's no attention here to the stuff that happens since Bentham and the various complications that people have have explored in the philosophical tradition and I think it would be a good idea if at least some of the people who rely on these assumptions spent a little more time attending to what their advantages and disadvantages are what the alternatives might be in the relative costs and benefits what else well so here's another thing that matters and I sneeze points by the way and roughly in order from less to more controversial so I think the first couple of claims I'm making you'll agree with quite quickly some of the others might be slightly harder to swallow but I nonetheless think think they're true and so here's one thing even purely descriptive scientific research even the sort of thing that we think about as purely descriptive scientific research stuff that isn't immediately policy oriented and so on cannot but proceed on the basis of law soft goal assumptions there's a particularly nice line from Dan Dennett here where he says that there's no such thing as philosophy free science there's just science that's being conducted without any consideration of its underlying philosophical assumptions so we're done it is getting at is that we don't have the option to do science in a philosophy free way the philosophy is there whether we want it to be or not and we can choose to acknowledge it we can make it explicit we can explore its advantages and disadvantages but we don't have the option of of getting rid of it in the context of the science of well-being and science quite generally one place where this sort of point becomes really important has to do with a concept of measurement so it's widely agreed in this literature that in order to do science of something you have to be able to measure it so the people work on happiness and whatever I have only rarely come across people who say that it doesn't matter if we can measure it or not right pretty much everyone will say that you know in order to build a science of this we first have to figure out a way to measure it but then they proceeded to say that we know how to measure it now not only just in principle but we know how to measure it in practice we know how to do this I'm not going to explore exactly had the way the argument goes but I just want to draw your attention to the fact that when a scientist makes an argument to the effect that something can be measured like that argument presupposes some sort of conception of what it means to measure something that contains some sort of conception of what conditions have to obtain for us to legitimately assert that we've succeeded in measuring this thing and that's a core issue in philosophy of science right the concept of measurement is something we've done for a hundred years or more is one of the central issues in philosophy of science and if you're a scientist you want to argue about whether happiness can be measured or not and they do argue about this or it's a big debate between so the people who do happiness research and the more orthodox economists for example it's a big topic of conversation and you can't have that conversation and you can't assert either one over the standard positions in that in that literature without making some sort of assumption about what it means to measure something and under what conditions you can say we now have license to assert that we've measured this this and so there are all sorts of ways in which sort of standard accounts and theories and philosophy of science pop up in the sciences and in a way that isn't just incidental right but in ways that are like absolutely critical maybe I should mention right away because Dan Dennett is on the screen here that I don't mean to suggest that you have to be a professional philosopher to philosophize right in fact I think there are many scientists who are superior philosophers than some philosophers but the point here is that there is an activity that's we know as philosophy and you have to engage in that sort of activity even if the only thing you want to do at the end of the day is the traditional science what else well another thing that Fauci does and that philosophy does well is to explore conceptual spaces and articulating advantages and disadvantage disadvantages of occupying various niches in that space now it's true though if you look at the philosophy of well being for example there's not like a whole lot of consensus about what the correct view is and I think this is a large part of the reason why scientist hesitate to go to the philosophical literature if you come from the outside and you look at philosophy you see this like vast mess of like positions and people disagreeing with each other and you might not see a whole lot of progress over time right I don't want to deny that there is progress over time whatever but but it's true that there's not exactly I could consensus among philosophers on the topic of what the nature of well-being is but there is something that there is not consensus but a much more agreement about any ways in philosophy of well-being and that has to do with what the space of live alternatives are so there are a couple of views out there that have defenders and that have had defenders over the generations those options are relatively stable they're new variations right being presented like every new doctoral dissertation in this area has to like add a wrinkle to some of the existing views but that broad out in broad outline the classes of live views the views that people take seriously remain relatively constant and that's what I'm getting at here so even if philosophers can't like tell everyone what well-being is what they can tell them what we can tell the rest of the world is like here's some options right here some views you might want to take right here's some consistent accounts that you could choose from and not only that we also have a pretty good idea what the advantages and disadvantages are we have these standards thought experiments that you could use to articulate like what advantage this theory here has over this theory over here and so there is a great deal of agreement if not consensus on like what the options are and what the advantages and disadvantages are this is actually pretty useful information for a scientist right even if you're like dead measuring happiness and arguing that we should maximize happiness which is fine if you want to if you want to do you can go to this literature and figure out what the advantages are what the disadvantages are like what the costs are of going this way this is useful information and it's useful for scientific reasons right I'm not coming from the outside here telling scientists they ought to be doing something they're not already committed to right they are already committed to spelling out to their assumptions and assessing advantages and disadvantages and so on and looking at the philosophical literature can help you do this it's not even very hard and so there are these fantastic resources now so here's the Rutledge handbook of a philosophy of well-being that came out a couple of years ago a couple of us in the room have chapters in here yeah it's outlines in short concise well-written chapters like what the main competitors are and what the central issues are in this area and whatever the so the cost to a scientist of reading up on this literature has become exceedingly low you just pick up this one book and and read it you'll get a good very good grasp of like what the live issues are I really wish they had done this and I think the sciences would have progressed faster so when people started to be all a Suzy astok about the the economics of of happiness like in the 90s people made lots of people made extremely strong claims about the importance of happiness so the science of happiness has been around for at least a hundred years it's not actually a new thing it became really popular in the 90s in early aughts I guess following word as a result of the work of some superstars I get dinner and Marty Seligman and so on Laird being one of them and they affirmed sort of Bentham like claims in very strong terms I mentioned Laird Laird there's another famous chapter titled back to Bentham saying you know which is the band of the stuff we've been doing and go back to them um it coming to this as a philosopher it was pretty clear already then that they were gonna have to backtrack like many of these claims because they made this exceedingly strong things and that's exactly what happened right so 10 years later these researchers started realizing that the happiness maximization idea was not like quite as good of an idea as they had thought and then they started backtracking these ideas they started thinking about well-being as having multiple components at which happiness would be one or you know various modifications but in philosophy we've been through this like hundreds of years before right they could have bypassed like 10 or 15 years of conversation on this just by reading the literature right which is not even that hard or they could have like walked across campus and paid for lunch for one of the Philosopher's who could have walked them through this stuff right we're not we're not expensive by a large right you can buy US lunch and we'll talk to you about can't you know until your ears fall off and so again this is not difficult for a scientist to do right it's very very straightforward all right ok and here's a the last thing I want to I want to mention during this half of the presentation which I said another thing that philosophy does is to examine how different frameworks were paradigms or images or whatever hang together by the way I might I might mention I should maybe I mentioned before that I'm trying to do this in a sort of non-committal way in the sense that I don't want to commit myself to any one conception of philosophy I also don't want to commit myself to any one conception of science what I'm hoping to do is to appeal to as wide an audience as possible by pointing to a number of things that scientists undoubtedly do and a number of things that philosophers undoubtedly do sort of things sort of claims we can agree on even if we happen to operate with different conceptions of science and philosophy and I think I think we you may agree that this is one of the things that that the science that philosophy does and does well of course the implicit reference here at Stableford Sellars is said precisely that the aim of philosophy abstractly formulated is to understand how things and the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term I think this sort of project is becoming particularly important now with increasing specialization so it's a fact I think in the sciences that various disciplines are getting more and more specialized so there used to be a time when neuroscientist could be on top of all the things happen in the neurosciences but now like you go to the annual conference and they're worth like 30,000 people at this conference is it not humanly possible for one person to know what's going on in neuroscience anymore like people are more and more specialized and if you're a grad student you might be feeling this pressure to specialize right you might be actively discouraged from reading too much in neighboring fields you might be told to just focus on your thing right it's to get to get done here so there's a lot of pressure on people researchers of all all career stages to like narrow down what they're doing so what we're looking at is a scenario where people no one memorable formulation more and more about less and less until in the limit you know we'll have these people who know everything there is to know about an infinitesimally small part of of the the science and I'm not arguing against this or a specialization has all sorts of different virtues but specialization much like division of labor works only if there's arbitrage or if there's a change right if people who operate in the one discipline or in the one sub discipline communicate with people in the other for ideas to to for us to reap the synergy effects or whatever and in the sign individual scientist is a pressured into not doing that sort of thing so there's a need for somebody who sees how the different projects that the scientists are involved in hang together with each other in the context of the philosophy of well-being I think this is particularly clear because so many of the people who operate or who do research on on well-being or happiness have in mind I think quite clearly more or less the same thing they have in mind the thing that philosophers talk about is well-being the sort of thing that's good for us the sort of thing that makes for a life well-lived the sort of thing that we care about when we care about how somebody else is doing and the sort of thing that we treat as a currency in comparisons in policy context where we have to weigh one person's interest against against another all these scientists seem to be interested in the same thing they're interested in that which policy should be designed to promote or enhance or even maybe maximize and yet they're going about these studies in radically different ways it will come as no surprise to you that when economists and psychology happiness or well-being get-together conversations are not always constructive right there's so many different assumptions that go into these the ways that people study this the assumptions are radically different they're often not articulated if you travel from the one discipline to the other you often have this experience or traveling to a foreign country because people do all these weird things that you don't understand and it's only like when you've immersed yourself long enough that you begin to see what they're doing and what they're thinking about it and why and how and so on now what I want to suggest it that this is like one principal aim of philosophy is to check how these different things hang together what we can learn about well-being from the psychology what we can learn about well-being from the philosophy and the economics and how these things hang together something we do I think for as philosophers and something that that we do quite well all right so here are some reasons to think that the practicing scientists has reason to look into what the philosophers are up to so there are lots of things I'm I'm not saying I am I'm not saying that there's always like a ready-made answer like prepackaged in a philosophy book that the scientist can borrow and take with them but there's certainly reflection to be had and some of it is quite productive and there is a sense in which philosophers actually agree on many interesting and relevant things that the scientist could could take advantage all right but now let's move on to oh yeah okay so right so scientists don't have the option of not relying on on philosophy right the option that they do have is whether they want to rely on the best available philosophical theorizing or whether they want to wing it okay you can wing it but what happens if you wing it is that you're likely to express some view that's completely obsolete and that's obsolete for a good reason if you put it this way I think it's quite clear that it's better for the scientists to try to proceed on the basis of philosophically justifiable positions rather than reaching for whatever comes to mind okay or that's my view anyway all right here's the second the second half which is claimed that the science of well-being is relevant to the to the philosophy of well-being like the first half is relatively relatively easy I should say to convince people of so among philosophers anyway it's people are quite happy to be told that philosophy matters right we we tell each other oftentimes that what we do is really relevant to people outside of the department and and it is right that's good this bit is harder for many people to swallow they claim that what happens in the sciences might matter to the philosophers first off would anyone ever deny this well yes and there are lots of people who who deny it so first off there's this traditional view of philosophy as the queen of the sciences so this is a depiction that goes back to the Middle Ages where philosophy here being depicted as a queen sitting in the middle of this image is surrounded by these differential figures around her who are the sciences and the idea is that she generates wisdom there the wisdom radiates from the center and outwards which means that the sciences benefit from the reflection the wisdom that philosophy generates down here you have Socrates and Plato by the way who are like communicating the insights and language that the scientists whether limited powers can understand um but the influence is unidirectional right the influence in this picture goes from the center and radiates outwards the science the scientists benefit from the wisdom of philosophy but the radiation does not go in the opposite direction right in this picture philosophy is nothing to learn from the from the sciences then this view is actually not that uncommon among contemporary philosophers so here's one example of this philosopher called fred Feldman who wrote a book what is this thing called called happiness which is really an interesting book on the one hand it pays extremely close attention to what happens in the sciences of well-being he spent a lot of time reading the scientists who do this to tease out what sort of philosophical assumptions underlie this this project and what not so it really don't notice a great favor looking at this so closely but the funny thing is that that even though he spent so much time as a philosopher reading this empirical literature at the end of the day he really doesn't think any of it matters to the philosophy so what he says is this there are many instances in which it's alleged that some body of empirical research has important implications for some long-standing philosophical question the suggestion seems to be that philosophers had better pay more attention to the work of their colleagues in psychology or economics lest they embarrass themselves by being ignorant of important findings that bear directly on their philosophical work this suggestion meshes nicely with a current science worship prevalent among some philosophers he's a cautionary tale here's nan Hebron who's done a lot of work on the philosophy of well-being in a way that's sensitive to to the empirical findings so hebron things is really important for philosophers to pay attention to what the empirical facts are but hey Feldman thinks that's a cautionary tale now he does Fellman doesn't say explicitly that it's all completely irrelevant he sort of hedges his bets he says I I haven't said that the empirical research in positive psychology is pointless or irrelevant to philosophical questions maybe there's some other researcher who has discovered something that bears on some philosophical question in spite of the fact that I have looked I have not found I doubt that it will be found notice that he's not talking about logical implication right he's not saying that the empirical results don't logically entail thoughts off core conclusions thank nobody nobody believes that to my knowledge he's saying that it's not relevant right has no bearing on which is a much weaker claim and even so he he denies it but what I want to do next is to give you some reason to disagree with Feldman here and to say that there actually are some pretty good reasons for philosophers to pay attention to what the empirical results are what are what are those results well again I'm going to talk about these in order from less controversial to more controversial and so I'll start here like philosophers routinely make claims about the well-being of the poor old sick and so on and about various trade-offs that we face you know so in the applied ethics literature for example right if you look at euthanasia philosophical discussions of euthanasia or philosophical discussions about abortion so on their philosophical assumptions in these papers right there's like utilitarian principles and stuff but a large part of the argument hinges on claims about how good it is for a person to be handicapped if it's our disabled sorry if it's like better to be dead than disabled and so on hunts severe the disability disability needs to be for for it to be better to be to be dead and so on right and then there are claims about trade-offs that we face so here's a quotation from Toby or is it leading figure and the effective altruism movement who says that he realized at some point that his money would be vastly more good for others and it could for me and I decided to make a commitment to donating them to the most effective charities I could find many people contacted me asking how they could do this as well and so I set up giving what we can which is an organization that encourages people to donate their resources to whatever organization will do the maximum good so easy utilitarian and notice how strong the empirical claims are that you need in order to complete this project it's not enough to know that some person would be made better off if they got a little more money right he wants us to do the most good that we could so if you have like one dollar and you're gonna give it to the most effective charity you need to know the marginal effect for each and every charity right how much good will come from donating here rather than here and if you're talking about redistribution like in the context of political conversations or whatever you need to know what are the total effects of like taking one dollar from over here and handing it over here the economists denote this marginal rates of substitution then it has to do with the consequences of transferring resources from one use to another and these are extremely strong empirical claims but underlying all these conclusions so if you're in the applied ethics you really can't avoid doing this stuff and I think much of the applied ethics literature has unfortunately ignored relevant information so when it comes to the well-being consequences of and disability for example the stuff that people who are themselves ill or disabled say well vary quite dramatically from the things that people like Peter singer will say right so we're talking about the appear empirical assumptions going into the argument right how well off a person is with a certain disability the people who have the experience of having these disabilities will make radically different claims about the consequences so there's a philosopher in the UK called hava Carell has talked about well-being with an illness about the ways in which you can be ill and well off at the same time this is a thing according to the people who have the experience and who have the philosophical powers to think about this and to articulate it clearly this is literature on this and if we're gonna do normative ethics or have applied ethics that depends on like empirical assumptions as applied ethics will right it's irresponsible not to pay attention to the best available information relevant to those claims right you can't do applied ethics without paying attention to the fact and there's some information out there generated by scientists that are relevant to the truth of those of those claims okay all right what else here's another thing that I find sort of interesting the most accepted way to adjudicate between philosophical accounts of well-being requires knowing how intelligent people use the word so saying before there's a great deal of disagreement about what the correct account of well-being is like if you ask 10 different philosophers right as always you get like eleven different answers about what what it is but given the disagreement about substance or the counts of well-being there's a remarkable amount of agreement on how we're supposed to go about settling these sorts of questions so there's a metaphor softcore claim about how we determine which account is better than another that finds a great deal of agreement there's no like consensus on this right but a remarkably large number of texts on well-being we'll start off by affirming like some version of this claim here's near a boudoir in Rutledge handbook that I showed you earlier she starts off by saying that we assess our philosophical theories by asking the question does the account sufficiently closely match what we mean by a life of happiness or well-being in everyday intelligent this course at literature that is like how we use this term how we apply it in everyday intelligent discourse not like in philosophy seminars but in everyday conversation Wayne Sumner is maybe most faithful most famous for articulating this principles in his book welfare happiness and ethics he wrote that the basic test for any account of well-being for any theory about the nature of well-being is easy to state the best theory about the nature and welfare is the one which is most faithful to our ordinary concept and our ordinary experience much of this has to do with and how we apply the word in everyday conversation so what's remarkable here is that a number of philosophers actually agree not on the correct theory but on how we are supposed to go about determining which theory is the best theory and notice that the story here is based on empirical assumptions right about how people use the words that's a straight up empirical claim of a sort that we could explore with traditional scientific means right linguistic analyses are very various ways now what's interesting here is that we have a pretty good estimate of like the number of people who have affirmed the importance of knowing how people use the word and the number of people who then proceeded to study in all seriousness scientifically how people use the word and the estimate is exactly zero there's not one philosopher who has said this and who's then gone on to study seriously and scientifically how people use the word isn't this remarkable right we have this entire philosophical literature that people have contributed to for four generations where people will say things like this without apparently even like once stopping up and asking how people use the word of course what happens is that people introspect right and they Satan says well how would I use this word and of course what happens there or actually I'll get back to that but their mind right it's interesting now maybe somebody will say but but it's not clear how we would study this and that's not true it's totally clear how we would study this and in fact people have studied this so here's a paper from 2017 called true happiness the role of morality and the full concept of happiness and here's a bunch of researchers at at Harvard and Yale Colorado Boulder who came up with a number of different scenarios vignettes you know hypothetical scenarios that they presented to like real human beings and the state to what extent is this person happy you can ask these questions in lots of different ways right I don't want to get bogged down in the details of the study but it's a it's a serious study published in the very serious Journal um and what they find is that the way that intelligent ordinary people use the word happiness is nothing like the way normal philosophers use the word so for one thing the concept the everyday concept is deeply moralized so if you're a moral human being people are much more likely to say that you are happy than if you're not okay so if you describe a person who's like in good spirits like a good Shearer following helping little ladies cross the street people are much more likely to say that they're happy than a scenario where the person is this person's mental state is described in the same way but he's happy because he was just torturing kittens or something that he enjoys doing right so the concept of happiness as normal people use it is nothing like the concept as philosophers use it and this should not surprise us right if you're in a thoughts view seminar and it occurs to you to like do empirical studies by asking the other people in the philosophy seminar you're really terrible scientist right this is one of those cases where diversity of the profession really matters if everybody else is like a middle-aged white guy you know middle class whatever you know bill asking Bob how Bob feels about this involves saying I agree with you bill these are two people who are drawn from a very narrow subsection of society they've also been socialized as philosophers possibly for 30 40 years right they don't even I don't even remember what my intuitions were before I started studying philosophy I doubt that anybody does right we don't know how we felt about this before we were corrupted by philosophical reflection and we can't do the science of this by pulling our friends in the same profession right that's awful awful and yet so many of these philosophers are fully committed to the view that we assess these accounts based on how people used to work now I'm not saying that for every empirical question that pops up in the philosophical literature there's an off-the-shelf answer to be had in the scientific literature right so that's obviously not true um but if if that's the case if you're a philosopher and you're really tempted to make some sort of empirical claim there are lots of things you could do go to the literature and look at the best available evidence and you can say hey here's the best available evidence like fine and it supports my view assuming that it does you could also like team up with some scientists and try to do the study and so there are lots of scientists who are looking for things to study and if you have a good hypothesis like philosophically motivated project you might be able to pitch it to somebody and collaborate with them on a study that determines whether it's true or not but even if that's not an option then maybe it won't be at a minimum it seems to me that intellectual honesty requires us to flag the claims that we make without any basis right and this is not like me telling philosophers to do anything differently right we're already committed to making our premises clear and explicit and trying to defend them to the extent possible and if our arguments are going to hinge critically right as in this case on some empirical claim about how people use the word like at the minimum we ought to be honest enough to say here's an empirical claim my entire theory is based on this empirical claim and I have zero empirical evidence to believe that it's true right that's what we ought to be saying but obviously nobody does ok I'm getting worked up here here's another way in which some empirical facts matter um another way to adjudicate between philosophical accounts is to ask which one does the work we expect you to do in philosophy science and beyond so this is a different view about how we assess philosophical accounts so one view is as I said you know just check like does this philosophical theory match the way people use the word in everyday discourse that's one way to go about it another way to go about it is to ask what sort of work do we expect this philosophical account to do what are what are the things we this concept for in which of these available concepts dust a job best this is not a unusual view by any stretch of the imagination so here's James Griffin in his book well-being which is huge classic from the mid 80s where he says we can't just ask that what's the best account of well-being as if best could mean most accurate our job is not to describe an idea already in existence independently of our search before we can properly explain well-being we have to know the context the wish it is to appear in the work it needs to do their one proper ground for choosing between conceptions our well-being would be that one lends itself to the deliberation that we must do and another one does not so here you need to ask yourself what is the deliberation that we must do what is that like well in policy context there are some questions we want to address many of those questions tend to be answered in terms of well-being okay so that's a domain where we expected concept of well-being to do some work we could we could talk about that right we can explore what sort of work is it supposed to do here well sort of criteria need to be satisfied for a full softball account to do that sort of work and we could use that kind of information to assess which one of these competing accounts is is the best one it's not even like Griffin was the first to say this I think you get the same idea more or less in Aristotle and so eros dog learn the Nicomachean ethics has a passage where he's criticizing plato's theory of forms I completely missed this passage until I reread the book like a few years ago and I was really struck by by this passage where he says moreover it's a puzzle to know what the weaver carpenter will gain for his own craft from knowing this good itself or how anyone will be better at medicine in the generalship from having gazed on the idea itself this strikes me is a really radical idea right so he's looking at Plato's theory of forms and he says it's deficient because it doesn't help the carpenter or the weaver gain proficiency at at their craft right it doesn't help you become a better general it doesn't help you become a better farmer it doesn't help you become a better cobbler and even if Aristotle doesn't consider that a knockdown argument against the theory of the forms he certainly considers it relevant to the question it seems to matter to Aristotle whether learning this philosophical theory will help you become better at some of these practical practical tasks and that's certainly something we could ask right we could ask questions about well-being suppose you study a full Soph goals Theory wellbeing does it help you do anything if you're a medical doctor does it help you make those sort of judgments you have to make if your imperative care for example right you'll do a lot of judgments of well-being does the philosophical Theory help you make those sorts of judgments or not it's a question you could ask and it has a certain empirical favor right does this account do this work in this context is something that you have to study on location again it may not be something that people in fact have studied but it's something that we could study right we could gather information relevant to it and if you agree with this general line of thought then that's certainly interesting all right here's another thing another thing we can do we can look at the way in which philosophers of well-being works with examples like you guys are all familiar with a happy slaves and subjugated housewives the dispossessed laborers or whatever in the context of arguments about hedonism it's particularly common to operate with these claims about whether slaves can be happy for example um this is something that fred Feldman talks about a lot in his book he talks about a subjugated housewife Bertha so I googled housewife birth and of course the first 12 images were like not safe for presentation but then this picture came up okay so here's Bertha um she's according to Feldman according to the thought experiment she's unable to recognize that her life is demeaning and dehumanizing and the question is is she happy well Feldman is a hedonist he wants at the end of the day to explain well-being in terms of happiness and happiness in terms of pleasure so to him it's a big problem like if somebody like this who lives a life that we would intuitively judge not good right if she can be happy Thelma's theory suggests that she's living a great life and that doesn't seem quite right so he takes this example very seriously several pages to exploring you know whether a person like this can be can be happy or not and here are some of the things that he says he says the example of Bertha is psychologically implausible it's doubtful that the socialization process that she endured could have been so perfectly and painlessly successful elsewhere he says if her life is so hard then surely there must be lots of things in which she takes this pleasure and further down it's reasonable to suppose that if she had taken advantage of the freedom to choose her lifestyle she would have taken pleasure in a much richer variety of interesting things so all this Jeff Feldman goes to show that she couldn't possibly be happy if her life was truly as bad as we've been asked to imagine but notice what sort of claim this is right he's not saying that the notion of a happy housewife is like logically impossible or incoherent or inconceivable or anything like that right he's saying that it's psychologically implausible which I take to mean something like inconsistent with you know principles of psychology it's doubtful that a socialization process could have been so perfectly and painlessly successful well is socialization painlessly successful or not well it's a straight up empirical the empirical claim that sort of thing you can you can study if her life is so hard that surely there must be lots of things in which it takes this pleasure again this is an empirical claim there are lots of things in which she takes this pleasure conditional on an account or pleasure right we can ask is a person living this sort of life experiencing this pleasure in that sense and so understood it's an empirical claim so Feldman is making like pages and pages of empirical claims about somebody in versus situation is there any evidence well there's exactly zero science cited in any one of these pages and he cites three philosophers and this context like no empirical evidence whatsoever would we get instead they're like empirical evidence like studies of this sort i I showed you is that a certain shift in the way he introduces these propositions so early on he says you know it's reasonable to suppose that P and then he goes on talking about this and further down he says well so surely P and then at the top of the next page he says it is a fact that P so you get this shift from like we might be able to suppose – it's a surely only by introducing the surely operator in the middle right which is not how we reason all right so here's again a whole series of empirical claims that Feldman makes in the context of his purely philosophical argument right he's trying to establish a theory of well-being which I take it everyone will agree is a philosophical project and yet in the context of this philosophical project he cannot not invoke these empirical questions in fact like if you removed all the empirical claims from this passage there would be no argument left right so these empirical claims are relevant to his case in the sense that they figure as premises in his argument and the premises are not you know you can't omit them right you they're critical in that way all right what else um I'm gonna keep moving up like the meta ladder here right so I talked about philosophical counts of well-being then I talked about meta philosophical principles concerning how to select between philosophical theories now we're going to talk about meta meta philosophical principles having to do with how you select between meta philosophical principles and here a number of philosophers have argued that the proof is really in the pudding so we have these metaphors off goal principle one says that you should assess these theories by comparing the theory to how people use the word somebody else says you should use you should assess these theories based on like whether the concept allows us to do this sort of work we want it to do and the question then arises like how are we to select between these metaphors off goal principles there's a fourth row called Mike bishop that some of you may have read it has a really amazing book on on the good life where he says that the way to assess meta philosophical principles is to look at what the consequences are and what he gets that in a slightly different way is that many philosophical debates have roughly this character so you're watching this little game here and you see things happening and then like it looks as though somebody has to lead but then maybe maybe not so much and then after a while you realize that so many of these debates are just going in circles right for years and years and years and the way he diagnoses this is that he says that people with the aristotelian like intuitions tend to become there's the Chilean philosophers and they nurturer so Chilean intuitions and consequently at the end of the day they defend their Italian theories whereas people with consequentialist intuitions tend to become a consequentialist and then they nurture their consequentialist intuitions and they talk themselves out of the other ones and then they use their intuitions to confront their theories with right and what you enough where this exists polarized profession with different communities of people who don't share intuitions and don't share theories whenever that's not a very good way to go about settling these differences in success the point here is not you know to sort of endorsed this idea although I I do endorse it but only to say that there's an empirical claim here to right may not be the sort of claim that scientists have studied but it's nonetheless a claim about what happens in the profession when you adopt the one principle versus when you adopt the other one right they have consequences we can look at those consequences and we can use information of those consequences there's premises in our arguments about which manifold optical principle is worth endorsing right so what's the point here well one point or the central point is that philosophers often can't avoid relying on empirical facts I'm not saying that every philosophical project requires you know some empirical claim or something I recognize that there are philosophical projects that you can complete without paying attention to the facts but there are many projects that we would I think agree on our philosophical projects such as Feldman's coming up with an account of well-being where the way we do this the way we play this game requires us to pay attention to empirical facts again I'm not saying that empirical facts would like logically entail those of Co conclusions what I'm saying is that the empirical facts are relevant to the conclusions in the sense that they appear as premises in our argument and as premises that we cannot eliminate without doing like major damage to our to our case so again we don't have the choice of not relying on Pyrrhic all claims the choice we have we're involved in the sort of project is either to like draw on the best available empirical research or to wing it right we can look at the the available evidence and try to make some inferences based on obviously imperfect evidence where we can just like you know make something up or ask our friends and they will make something up right that's not I think a very good way to go about it all right so what's that what's the punchline here well the punchline is that there's a certain kind of symmetry right in the way that for scientists use philosophical claims and the way in which philosophers use empirical claims so the upshot is that science and philosophy stand in a symbiotic and symmetrical relationship with scientists and philosophers engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas for the advancement of the general knowledge so the opposite I guess would be a commensal istic relationship which is the relationship like like that between a tree and the orchid that grows on it right that's released it's not a parasitic relationship because the tree isn't harmed by having an orchid growing on it but the orchid requires a tree to grow on if it is to flourish at all right the other view is that of like philosophy being the the tree and the sciences being the orchid right and that's the view that I'm I'm rejecting here philosophical arguments sometimes can't help but proceed from empirical premises and a scientific argument sometimes can't help but proceed from philosophical premises by and large if you're making empirical claims you ought to be supporting them with empirical evidence if you're making philosophical claims you ought to support them with philosophical argument when this is true you know it's appropriate for philosophers to support the premises the empirical premises that they make were the best available scientific evidence recognizing that the best available evidence might not be conclusive and so on right we're failing that at least to flag that they're making empirical claims that have no evidence supporting them and it's also appropriate for the scientists who depend on philosophical claims to rely on the best available philosophical argument right then there are certainly better and worse arguments out there indeed I think it would be irresponsible to rely on such Prem without making some effort to confront them with systematic scientific evidence in the one case or systematic philosophical argument than the other now I want to leave you with another quotation from from Monday where he says the my ideal will not be attained by preaching philosophical or scientific sermons to the scientists or the philosophers but by making an effort to understand them I suggest that philosophers or scientists should become apprentices rather than law givers and participants rather than on lookers this is also my recommendation yeah that's a great question so I should I should say right away that the the quotations I had on the screen were deliberately selected for being extreme right so here cypher is not representative for all economists and Feldman is not representative for all the philosophers there certainly are lots of people who endorse these views but that's not that's not universally true and so there are lots of scientists who do pay attention to what goes on in neighboring disciplines and who do pay attention to you know to the extent that they can what the philosophers are doing there are also institutions like regular conferences in places where philosophers and scientists yet invited and will we'll talk to each other not always fruitfully but at least people try right and I want to think that the general trend is in that direction so there's a lot of interesting interdisciplinary work and maybe I'm just revealing my own biases here but it seems to me that the most exciting work and the most interesting conclusions come out of that the liminal field between the different disciplines people are certainly beginning to see that it matters what happens in the other fields and people are beginning to talk to each other so that's sort of where I see the trend going but it could go faster and I guess that's what I'm trying to do with with this and speaking about institutions I mean there are also more and more Institute's like like this one right where philosophers and scientists live relatively happily they're the same roof and we're students in the one discipline goes off go off to take courses and the other and whatnot and all these are encouraging developments that I think are really shaking up the way we do this the scope that you the scope of the claim that could the empirical literature should constrain the philosophy should respect the plus a building should respect the ordinary usage of well being and then you criticize people for not trying to figure what that is but but it should conform to the so that's a that's a claim about that should apply to the super simple concept to what degree does that also apply to may be counterintuitive consequences is the constraint that it has to conform in some way to ordinary usage and so I think your question is survivable answer me so I didn't endorse that principle I just put it up there saying that it's it's very common even among philosophers to disagree about the nature of well-being sumner has has an excellent thoughtful discussion about this where he says that now you know of course we've not going to expect like one philosophical account to completely match what everyone's doing and so we have to we have to make some sort of holistic judgment and there will be some claims we make that feel like we make them with more confidence and we'll be more concerned with preserving those judgments than we are with preserving some other more peripheral judgments about well-being and so on and so there's a been active discussion about this among people who sort of endorse that principle I tend to be more with Bishop I think it's more interesting to look at what sort of work does this concept do and you know which one of the philosophical accounts serves us better so this is a longer story but I think about the analogy with probability for example so if you want an account or probability or if you want to figure out what the axioms of probability are whatever you could go out and ask people what their intuitive judgments with probability are and you're gonna get a massive mess right or you could ask yourself well what we want this concept for well we want it for doing statistics right we want it to do accounting and then you ask yourself well what sort of axioms will allow us to do the sort of work we want to do in statistics that seems to me a more helpful way to go about exploring the nature of probability than confronting theories with intuitive untutored judgments and I said this at some point to an experimental philosopher and he called me a fascist for like you know thinking we should pay attention to what the elites think more than what like three regular folk things think anyway so there's an active discussion about about this that the quote was you know about the ordinary concept and then no attempt it's one of the first books written that actually engages watching the social research indicators literature lots of the social scientific literature and actually tries to work out an account of well-being according to it just authentic life satisfaction which kind of matches what lots of people in the literature the scientific their truth we're doing and also kind of relies Lots on literature and things like that so it wasn't attempt to think in some ways to kind of move beyond say what you find in Griffin which was a book written decade earlier which we did only had anything you know about the empirical literature typically nothing kind of outside of this sort of you know what Parfitt had said you know a few years or cousin your name is appendix to these persons something good sort of that that's one good thing about the summer books it opened up the idea that you know philosophers who are working on this should really just so you know I think it's a great book I really enjoyed reading it he was just so surprising to me to get to this point in Chapter eleven or something where he says that it's all pointless you know for philosophical projects or here use of laws for having just written like so many chapters about this in exquisite detail and sorry yeah in exquisite detail and then the end is as you know nothing of this matters reason to endorse the one philosophical theory rather than the other but anyway so I didn't want to like dismiss the book I think it's a great book it's just like really interesting how he evidently depends on empirical claims of all sorts of kinds and you know without any any evidence at all I have a paper specifically on this where I do try to look up the evidence and it turns out that the evidence does not support his his claims or to the best of my ability right the evidence suggests that you can be perfectly happy even if your life this you know demoralizing in the meeting which is of course a Martius sense point so when he talked about the subjugated housewife in the Indian context based on these experiences of living there and working there Aki's point was that it's possible to be a lower caste women live a life that you know we in our ivory towers would judge demoralizing and demeaning and and bad and nonetheless you know have her affirm that she's living a great life and she wouldn't change anything and so on right that's the whole motivation for her for sin right sin also doesn't give like ton of empirical evidence but at least he's made on location Feldman just denies that without offering any evidence at all in support of his claim which is strikes me as surprising philosophy tradition works which start with an ordinary language concept can you focus it elucidate what that is but I don't see that there be any reason to think that there's a coherent concept of well-being that's underlying the ordinary language concept probability that you could have listened to that way and so I mean that's that's sort of a negative I guess argument maybe balance once persuaded persuaded not to take that sort of mana philosophical position so he recognizes and we can't just doing my listing assertions and like checking them off we have to make some sort of judgments about like which is a core concept and which one is so you know yeah there's a procedure for doing this and I mean it's not it's not a silly idea right it's it's it's not a silly idea if you try to elicit a concept of probability that you get something that's incoherent that there's sort of well known heuristics that we use sort of reasoning lead to something that can't be generalized and so with well being is there something like that where you say here's reasoning about being so that if you try to use yeah yeah that's interesting so I could see that being true I'm fully satisfied that it's going to turn out to be true I don't know anyone who's done the serious sort of scientific study about that that seems like something you could do I mean what they do find that people have done this it's like a great deal of disagreement right they do they certainly don't find people agreeing on all these judgments there are there are differences and I imagine that if you look at this you might find like cultural differences too right there might be systematic ways in which people make different judgments all that would be interesting from a scientific point of view and it might also be philosophically relevant for at least some philosophical projects I guess the implications of your argument it seems like the standard it seems like none of these like official views give any weight at all to intuitions right summer doesn't mention intuitions and I find many moral philosophy contexts people do nothing but confront theories with their own private intuition so that's another sort of maybe themselves as an indicator of like the majority or something that's certainly conceivable but maybe I should clarify that you know I do intend this to be like relatively radical I'm not making any claims about like institutional organization right so I'm not saying we should shut down philosophy departments and I'll move into the psych department or the other way around right I'm not talking about that sort of thing at all I think it's it's I think the philosophy and science are like distinct activities I'm glad they're pursued as such in universities and whatever I do think we should cross these boundaries more often and of course you know preaching to the choir here you guys already do I think we should do this more often and I do think that a lot chunk of moral and social and political philosophy really ought to be completely rewritten or at least confronted with actual evidence I mean seminar so often where I feel like the entire seminar is about like some empirical claim but no one is like making the slightest effort to confront it with with evidence and so to the point where I shut up now right because I'm asking the same question and like every seminar like you know isn't that an empirical question like it's good yeah evidence about that have you looked at this and it gets boring to repeat yourself but yeah I mean if you take this sort of you seriously I think you know we really have to do moral philosophy in a quite different way experimental philosophers have done great work on on all sorts of thought experiments right where they confront people with with thought experiments so for you know meta philosophical reasons I don't think at the end of the day that that sort of question is as interesting as the question of like what does this concept do for us so I'm more with Aristotle and and Griffin here then with Sumner and boudoir but to the extent the philosophers are depending on empirical claims about people's intuitions and how they apply these concepts and whatever there's beginning to be research out there that you can tap into there methodologists that are perfectly established that you could just borrow off the shelf if you want to do the study yourself and again at a minimum what we should expect from philosophers who are committed to articulating their assumptions and defending them and so on is that people flag the assumptions they're making without any evidence big role was playing these games of chance and things where you and then you could use the applications to then refine and get a concept that would do those jobs is there any way to hope for something maybe not as mathematically a particular pose that library the caregivers give in things there must be a lot of stuff they learned about details that make a difference in the right way and I'm wondering if I mean that's just one sort of thing but about things but what sort of things we might look for and again I mean you sort of specifics how to make things better and are ways we can pick up things from which those that seem to work and which ones don't that might be something that could do a job analogous to what games of chance did yeah yeah that's great this is exactly the right question to ask right so you you're exactly right I hadn't thought through this analogy properly but in the King case of games of chance there were specific questions like how many times do you have to do this to get an even chance of winning you know this price or whatever and so they're very clear distinct questions that people were trying to address you know they develop the theory in order to answer those sorts of questions and then there's like some degree of empirical testing you could do to check write certain of some of those assumptions and so the question to ask them is what are the analogous questions in the context of well-being like what are the challenges that we need a philosophical account to address right it's a philosophical account is completely idled and we can go off and explore it in some other way but there are presumably like as philosophers we're committed I think to the idea that there are like real judgments out there that hinge on a closed certainly whatever argued and sort of getting a clear handle on what those questions are would be a fantastic first step toward figuring out what sort of criteria of the proper account have to satisfy yeah it's a very different project really so you know of course the trolley case is now being studied for so long so there are lots of different wrinkles on it but you know very often the the object there is to figure out like on about circumstances people say it's okay to like pull the trigger and under what circumstances it isn't then you vary all the different details you vary the number of people and you vary the scenario and you push in the one scenario and you pull in the other but you get a good handle on the judgments that that people make and that's a find research project but it's a little different from the one you're suggesting if for example in – yeah yeah in the sciences I mean over the course of the 20th century or something I mean the trend was definitely away from intuitions right we started off with like introspective psychology and just noticeable differences whatever and we completely abandoned that and went to like empirical testing and and whatever and I guess what I'm what I'm advocating in a way is the same sort of procedure in philosophy where we move away from reliance on these dominant intuitions and yet to the extent that moving away from them will also make the discipline more welcoming for a wider population that would certainly be a massive unexpected positive benefit and there'd be this feedback loop because I was talking about how like this is one of those cases where the lack of diversity in the profession is a real problem right if everyone's the same everyone's gonna have more or less the same intuition it's gonna look as though everyone agrees case in point is the experience machine where you know no success something like surely you wouldn't plug in right and I don't know how many seminars and classes I've attended where somebody says you know I wouldn't put a plug in would you plug in I don't think so right and everyone around the table agrees but then at some point Felipa Deborah guard who was then a grad student at UNC came up the idea of like polling people and poldi's his PhD students undergrads sorry and what he found was that noise like wasn't it alright lots of people are willing to plug in so you get younger people um anyway this is not surprising right young people have been known to like and things that alter experience as young people play computer games that are increasingly vivid but the other thing that he found was that the responses are very strongly responsive to the framing effects so how you ask the question has a huge effect on what people's responses are and that's also relevant right if you're in the philosophy of setting and you always frame the question the same way the way Nozik did it back in 1970 who I was at yam 3 you know you've only tested one framing right and you can't no on the basis of your intuitions that things would be different if the question had been asked different differently but now we know because the brew guard did this study right and that told us a lot about intuitions or responses to the sort of scenario and it's certainly relevant again those sort of empirical studies don't logically entail any falls off call series but because claims about intuitions figure importantly in all sorts of arguments the truth of those claims are certainly relevant to you know that soundness of the argument so I'm thinking about maybe everybody knows this but like the logical positivists when they met had like a list of propositions they were gonna discuss and then they took a vote before the discussion and a vote again afterwards and each individual was color coded and so in the little minutes there are like dots representing each individual you can track we can track now hundred years later in real time like when kind of changed his mind on some particular proposition and I guess it I should have done something like that when I started with this right I don't really know nonsense right and then there's this general phenomenon where people will say no no no and then they'll switch and I'll say but of course right that's what I've always said and so you have to be very careful if you want to track how people's changes just about economists you didn't ask about philosophers you want to know about philosophers yeah I don't know if I've changed mind so many philosophers I have some empirical evidence but the paradox course if you don't pay attention to empirical evidence then empirical evidence will sway you and persuade you into taking empirical evidence I just wish you would reiterate some of the points that you made last night in his other lecturing almost of findings from the psychology of happiness that sort of stuff so some one thing that's relevant actually is sort of these findings so one of the things that I talked about yesterday for those of you who weren't there were those of empirical findings that coheres with like pre-existing expectations right and empirical findings that don't and one of the things that you know surprises surprise people are these findings on on health where whether health and happiness are correlated depends on how you understand health and how you measure it if you look at people's subjective conceptions of how healthy there are there is a strong relationship between how healthy they are say they are and how happy they are if you look at like how many diagnoses they have there are no effects ohyou many studies they're remarkably weak effect between like the objectively assessed health state and happiness and that's interesting right if your philosophical project involves defending an account of well-being where well-being is constituted by happiness and you're doing this on the basis that you think people use the word happiness in this way what you're finding is that the concept as the psychologists use it anyway gets applied very differently from the way that ordinary people or you know and philosophers would use that term those sorts of things seemed relevant to a whole number of philosophical projects so that's really a part of it so yesterday I I focused mainly on the ways in which the philosophy mattered to the to the sciences and I fleshed it out in some detail and what I was trying to do here was also turn the turn the case over as it were and make the case from the other direction yeah yeah yeah yeah that's it so how are you to abandon the idea that there's a single unitary concept so I know unlike the literature on emotions so far if this for example has taken the line look there's just not a natural kind that corresponds to emotions there's several different things scientists studied which we sort of routinely call the emotions ordinary ordinary language you can distinguish there are different types of things that fall under this general level but there's no single thing that captures all of the things that are ordinary language concept applies to and so for happiness is this a similar kind of concept yeah there's a similar trend in in positive psychology where like in the early days a hundred years ago people imagined that happiness and satisfaction we're the same thing for example and so they use these terms interchangeably and then at some point in the 60s people started looking seriously at responses to these different questions and what they found was that the correlations were not as high as they had expected and they drew the conclusion then that happiness and satisfaction are really two different things that correlate some but not perfectly in the case of health when you look at correlations like the one the ones we were just talking about and you get like very different correlations based on whether you're measuring it in the one way or the other way the temptation there is to say that there really are two different concepts of health right that we need to distinguish between and so their general trend is for concepts alike multiplied into into many and and that's good when it comes to well-being of course that one kind of job we want the concept of well-being to do is in the context of ethics right so if you're a utilitarian for example right you're committed to the idea that there is a unitary thing of well-being that you have and that's comparable across people such that you could average across individuals or like add it up and and maximize it in some way and so this is where like the job you want the concept to do is kind of you know have exactly it's gonna force certain kinds of concepts and how this is gonna play out you know I have no real idea but but at this stage the most important thing is to be clear on what's related to what and what's relevant to what and you know that's certainly a first step [Applause]

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *