Well-Being and Economic Goals
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Well-Being
Neva R. Goodwin
As an overview
and introduction to the topics of the whole book,
Part 1 will give examples of an ongoing dialogue
between philosophy and economics in which the former
poses the "big questions" -- What is the
good life? What is happiness? What is well-being?
-- while economics, even in its most philosophical
mode, rarely goes beyond the narrower question:
What is economic well-being (or material prosperity,
or a good standard of living)? The purpose of this
overview essay is to present t his dialogue in such
a way that the reader can make a solid start on
our larger project: to explore the notion of well-being
and its relationship to economic concepts and concerns.
will begin with two fairly abstract sections. The
first will present three different ways in which
one might understand how economic growth relates
to human well-being. The second section will indicate
how the term economic growth is being used here,
while providing some definitions for that concept
and for human well-being.
frameworks in mind, the next section will raise
a topic that will recur throughout this book: the
issues of measurements and indicators. How much
do we actually know -- in a "scientific"
manner -- about well-being? The answer is that there
has been real progress in this area of study. Some
conclusions will be cited, going beyond the works
summarized here. The final section will emphasize
what philosophy has to contribute to the question
of how economics should define its concerns.
Rendered Visually: Three Worldviews
As a starting point for thinking about the interface
between the philosophical and economic questions
cited above it will be useful to consider some schematic
frameworks for our subjects.