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Eric Wiland

Abstract

What is group well-being? There is, as of yet, shockingly little philosophical literature explicitly aiming to answer this question. This essay sketches some of the logical space of possible answers, and nudges us to seriously consider certain overlooked options. There are several importantly different ways the well-being of a collective or a group could be related to the well-being of the individuals who constitute it: 1) eliminativism, 2) functionalism, 3) partialism, or 4) the independent view. If the relation between individual and collective well-being is either functional or partial, then we face a further question: What is the direction of constitutive dependence?  Does the well-being of a group depend upon the well-being of the well-being of the individuals who compose it, or does the well-being of an individual depend upon the well-being of the groups to which they belong?  Or both?  These questions raise some puzzles that I begin to resolve.  I conclude that there might be a wide variety of ways the well-being of a collective obtains, only some of which are related to the well-being of the individuals who are its members.  In the end, I hope to vindicate the thought that an injury to one is an injury to all.

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