Thursday, December 28, 2006

Griffin. How the concept of well-being is introduced. 3: Interest

The concept of well-being is sometimes considered to be analytically connected to the concept of what is in a person's interest. Griffin claims that his analysis of the meaning of well-being preserves this connection to a sufficient degree:

“The desire account has all along been designed to keep ‘utility’’ close to ‘ what is in a person’s interest’. It is not that the expression ‘fulfilling ones informed desire’ and ‘being in one’s interest’ come out meaning the same. They certainly do not mean the same in the usual sense of ‘desire’. [Moreover] I may desire Turkish delight simply through having a weakness for it, but to say that it is in my ‘interest’ applies a heavy word to an entirely light subject. None the less, these are all pretty minor differences, and the application of the two expressions is very close.” (37)
He also assumes that the concepts of good and interest are analytically connected:

"The link between ‘interest’ and ‘good’, however, is one of meaning. The word ‘good’ has associated with it ‘the condition of answering certain interests, which interests are in question being indicated either by the element modifying or the element modified by “good” or by certain features of the context of utterance’ [this is the semantic analysis of ‘good’ by Ziff , Paul, Semantic Analysis; Ithaca Cornell University Press.] [Here comes the important point:] The use of ‘good’ that we are especially concerned with is ‘good for such-and-such a person’. The relevant interests, therefore, are that person’s interests, and for something to be good is for it to satisfy those interests of his. And since utility is linked to satisfying a person’s interest, it must in the same way be linked to a person’s good." (37)

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