Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Measuring wellbeing?

Uh huh. Colour me one very skeptical philosopher. Hundreds of bright folks have tried -- and failed -- to come up with a decent measure of wellbeing, not to mention one that can substitute for GDP. Maybe we just shouldn't try to quantify the unquantifiable.

No, no, silly idea. Forget I said anything.


Cidney said...

Aww, but then we'd miss the entertaining papers.

It sounds like an interesting experiment, though; attempting to compare someone's subjective experience of happiness with their "wellbeing" defined by pseudo-objective rankings on national values.

ADHR said...

That, of course, is exactly the issue. ;) Is wellbeing a subjective measure or an objective one? If it's objective, can it vary? (e.g., is what was a "good life" to, say, Aristotle the same as what is a "good life" to me?) The nice thing about GDP is that what it measures is something we can find everywhere, and it's always the same thing -- money. If we want to go to wellbeing, then it's quite likely that we lose what made having a measure valuable in the first place.