Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Well-Being, Adaptation and Human Limitations*


Philosophical accounts of human well-being face a number of significant challenges. In this paper, I shall be primarily concerned with one of these. It relates to the possibility, noted by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen amongst others, that people’s desires and attitudes are malleable and can ‘adapt’ in various ways to the straitened circumstances in which they live. If attitudes or desires adapt in this way it can be argued that the relevant desires or attitudes fail to provide a reliable basis for evaluating well-being. This is, what I shall call the ‘adaptation problem’. Nussbaum and Sen have—in different ways used this argument to motivate their versions of the ‘capability approach’. However, questions remain about the implications of adaptation for philosophical accounts of well-being.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 151 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.