This Meet the Expert workshop discussed the assertion that desire or preference-satisfaction theories of well-being are fundamentally misconceived. A state of affairs that is not otherwise good for an individual does not become good for the individual because the individual desires it. Consider cases in which, for example, a person forms a desire that a stranger he meets on a train be cured of a dangerous disease. The satisfaction of that desire does not make him better off. The explanation given by defenders of preference or desire satisfaction theories is that such desires, whose satisfaction does not enhance the agent’s well-being, do not concern the agent’s own life. That response fails, because the satisfaction of preferences that are self-directed but which do not aim at the agent’s own benefit does not, except by chance, promote the agent’s well-being. What makes satisfying my desires so often good for me is the fact that I frequently desire things that are in some other way good for me. Preference or desire satisfaction theories tell us nothing about what constitutes well-being. They instead piggy-back on the judgments of individuals concerning what promotes their well-being, understood in some other way than as preference or desire satisfaction.
Invited scholars chair an exclusive three-hour seminar, allowing students and young researchers to engage in a face-to-face encounter with the invited expert. The participants are given insights into scientific materials and will discuss the expert’s findings and publications in a small and intensive workshop environment. To ensure an in-depth exchange, participant numbers are limited and allocated on the basis of a short motivational letter.