Chad Stevenson

‘Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: Well-being and the Poker-Hand Account’ (MA in Philosophy, 2018).

This thesis advances a novel theory of wellbeing called the poker-hand account. On this account, welfare is not one-dimensional (as is traditionally supposed) but two-dimensional. This bipartite model of welfare draws a distinction between how a person is ‘going’ (what states-of-affairs obtain, regardless of whether they are the result of the agent’s actions or external factors), and how that same person is ‘doing’ (regardless of what states-of-affairs obtain, the person is responding to and actively making the best of their circumstances). Besides being the most plausible refinement of the two-dimensional nature of wellbeing, the poker-hand account also provides the resources to address several disputes concerning the good life. First, the poker-hand account explains why people do not share any widespread intuition with regards to experience-machine thought experiments. Second, the poker-hand account generates an error theory that resolves several problems arising due to the shape of a life phenomenon. And third, the poker-hand account provides a fresh means of constructing an objective-list theory that is resistant to two fundamental problems levelled at this category of theories. In short, the aim of this thesis is to show how the poker-hand account is both a robust and highly plausible theory of welfare.

Supervisors: Dr Daniel Halliday, Associate Professor Karen Jones