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Desire-based theories of well-being are often said to accept (G), x is good for a person just in case he wants it, and (B), x is better for a person than y just in case he prefers x to y. I shall argue that (G) and (B) are inconsistent, and this inconsistency resists any plausible refinement of these principles. The inconsistency is brought out by cases in which our wants and preferences for certain life-options are contingent on which life-option we realize. My argument can be generalized to endorsement theories that define a person’s good as the right combination of some kind of objective desirability and subjective endorsement, and allow preferences to be tie-breakers when the compared objects are equally desirable (or incommensurable). My conclusions will not just be negative. I shall argue that if the choice is between (G) and (B), the most attractive option is to keep (G), slightly refined, and drop (B). 1
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Jesus College OxfordOX1 3DWUK, Email:

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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