Well-being is focused on defending what is intrinsically good for an individual and contributing to better their life. The goodness of others can also contribute to their wellness by counting and considering everyone equally. Different theories determine the wellness of an individual. They can be either psychological or philosophical. The safety of people determines the nature of their life; individual well-being determines one’s life. The higher the level of comfort, the more other things become equal. Some effects can raise the level of well-being, for instance, money, and good jobs, among other circumstances. However, there are some aspects, such as poverty, that will lower the level of well-being. It is characterized by the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. To promote a better life, one must increase pleasure and decrease pain. The thoughts of happiness are based on preference theory and are desire-based. The theory says that welfare is achieved when one’s desires or preferences are satisfied, and if a person’s desires or preferences are not attained, they are less well off. This paper will focus on general or actual preference theory and whether it contributes to well-being or not.
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The higher the contribution of satisfaction of preferences, the higher the level of well-being. The lower the contribution of satisfaction of preferences, the lower the level of happiness. Preference theory is based on two versions actual preference theories and ideal preference theories (Heathwood 139). Basic preference theory is the satisfaction of the desires that a person already has no matter their basis, even if they are not informed or irrational, as long as they make them better. In contrast, ideal preference theories are the preferences or desires that a person would have if they were conversant, thinking critically, and unaffected by bias and prejudice. Ideal preferences are imaginable since they are the desires attained under various circumstances, for instance, if they were fully informed. The theory depicts that one must consider identifying the value of the desire if it will be beneficial or harmful (Heathwood 138). Preference satisfaction explains what constitutes an individual’s well-being and the circumstances under which their desires are satisfied.
According to the actual preference theory, individuals, well-being, and better life are enhanced when their desires are satisfied. This theory focuses on satisfying desires that a person has without considering much on their basis. The preferences determine the person’s well-being based on what they value. Preferences are not equal; different people have different preferences; hence, they are based on a person’s view on their well-being.
Actual preferences are flexible; they are open and accessible since one is not entitled to mind factors such as misinformation as long as they make life better. This theory is easy to apply since it is based on what we have, and it has no restrictions that determine someone’s desires, for instance, in case there is misinformation or errors. The theory does not limit the number and the people who apply it; it is open since the desires can be satisfied. For instance, for a person that is aspiring to be a novelist, the desire can be achieved by reading different novels to gain experience on how novels are written.
Basic preference theory states that desires contribute to happiness; an individual has control of his or her life. Happiness is determined by getting what you want; hence, desires are the catalyst to happiness when desires are satisfied. The better one has satisfied the desires, the more happiness obtained. Desire has contributed to the achievement of various life goals and made life better. Satisfaction of different desires has promoted the realization of many goals that have contributed to a better life by reducing poverty and innovation, among other goals. Basic preference theory helps keep friends since a person does not emphasize the value of the desire or if the information is accurate or not, unlike in ideal preference theory, whereby the desires are valued and based on thorough research.
There are different positive explanations of the theory with which I cannot entirely agree due to the following objections: the preferences that may contribute to well-being may change once they realize that they were misinformed. Misinformation may lead to desires that are errors; for instance, a person can be misinformed on things that are out of existence or don’t match the qualities (Heathwood 142). This signifies that general preferences may last for a short time since they are partial and may not be factual, unlike restricted preferences based on some factors such as being free from biasness and being informed. Actual preferences do not look at the alternatives. They are only focused on what an individual has, for instance, if a person chose between going to a party and staying at home and he/she chooses to stay at home. An individual will be unaware of what would contribute to well-being because the choice was based on what they think is suitable for their well-being.
Another objection to actual preference theory is that the desires of an individual are open; a person can consider having any desire without being concerned about their subject matter. The flexibility of the general preference theory may lead to poor decision-making in one’s life without one consent. Some people may think that the satisfaction of their desires contributes to their well off, this may differ since the desires are not quantified based on their value to one’s life (Heathwood 140). In cases depressed people, they may think their preference of staying alone or committing suicide may contribute to their well-being, but it may be a way of harming themselves.
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This paper concludes that different aspects we encounter every day affect the outcome of our actions. Desires can be one of the versions of determining well-being; preference theories say that living well is the best way to fulfill desired lives by satisfying their desires. It is easy to apply the actual preference theory daily than the ideal theory since it is not restricted to identifying its value in our lives. Desires do not fully determine the well-being of a person since they have their shortcomings. This theory proved that personal fulfillment comes from within, and it is the duty of every individual to search within themselves to look for their happiness. Moreover, when one is unable to get their fulfillment, they can switch their preferences to predicaments, and when they achieve this, they can be able to access everything they desire. Ideally, the actual preference theory suggests that the things we want are good because we want them, while in reality, it can mean the opposite.
Heathwood, Chris. “Desire-fulfillment theory.” The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being, edited by Guy Fletcher, Routledge, 2016, pp.135-147.