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Benefitting Friends and Idealized Theories of Well-Being

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Duration: 0:32:35 | Added: 08 Jul 2013
In this paper I give an overview of the kind of idealized theory I endorse and describe the conditions under which a person can appropriately discount, ignore or override a friend's own conception of what's good for him or her.

Idealized theories of well-being take what is good for a person to depend in some way on that person's ideal self (her ideal values or preferences, for example) rather than her actual self. There are good reasons to favor theories of well-being that include idealization in this way, but idealization also creates some problems. One problem is that it is difficult to know how to help people, because these theories imply that benefitting people might require ignoring their own views about what's good for them and treating people in ways that go against their own preferences, values or thoughts about their good is tricky. For one thing, we don't necessarily have better information about a beneficiary's ideal self than he or she does. For another thing, acting against a person's preferences, etc. can itself cause various kinds of harm. In this paper I explore this problem in the context of friendship and I describe the conditions under which a person can appropriately discount, ignore or override a friend's own conception of what's good for him or her. I proceed by first giving an overview of the kind of idealized theory I endorse and then turning to the question of how to think about helping our friends.

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