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The Value and Significance of Ill-Being

Woodard, Christopher

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Professor of Moral & Political Philosophy


Since Shelly Kagan pointed out the relative neglect of ill-being in philosophical discussions, several philosophers have contributed to an emerging literature on its constituents. In doing so, they have explored possible asymmetries between the constituents of ill-being and the constituents of positive well-being. This paper explores some possible asymmetries that may arise elsewhere in the philosophy of ill-being. In particular, it considers whether there is an asymmetry between the contribution made to prudential value by equal quantities of goods and bads. It then considers a similar question about the contributions made to moral value by equal quantities of ill-being and positive well-being. The paper explores some of the difficulties involved in assessing these questions. It ends by considering broader differences, both practical and theoretical, between the significance of ill-being and of positive well-being.


Woodard, C. (2022). The Value and Significance of Ill-Being. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 46, 1-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 3, 2022
Publication Date Dec 3, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 3, 2022
Journal Midwest Studies in Philosophy
Print ISSN 0363-6550
Electronic ISSN 1475-4975
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Pages 1-19
Keywords ill-being; positive well-being; prudential value; moral value; liberty; care
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Accepted for a special issue ‘Well-Being and Ill-Being’ edited by Gwen Bradford.


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