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Texas A&M University

1. Campbell, Stephen Michael. Phenomenal well-being.

Degree: MA, Philosophy, 2006, Texas A&M University

Hedonism is not terribly popular as a theory of well-being. And there are good reasons to question whether hedonism even supplies the best account of happiness. Yet hedonism captures something important, and it will be the goal of this essay to articulate just what that is. I suggest that hedonism provides the best account of phenomenal wellbeing (PWB). PWB is a restricted form of well-being that relates to the quality of the experience of a life—or, in other words, the quality of one’s phenomenal life. If wellbeing is characterized as “how well one’s life goes,” then PWB is “how well one’s life goes for her, from the inside.” In rating a life’s PWB, the life is judged solely on the basis of the contents of the experience of that life rated against the experience of the individual’s other possible lives. Unlike well-being, PWB is guaranteed to track more robust experiential benefits that a person gets out of living a life. In this work, I discuss the concept of well-being, including the feature of subjectrelativity that is sometimes ascribed to it; then, after introducing the concept of a phenomenal life, I develop the concept of phenomenal well-being. I propose what I take to be the best available account of PWB, which involves the hedonistic concept of satisfaction. An epistemic model of life-comparison (inspired by Peter Railton’s full information account of well-being) on which phenomenal lives are judged on the criterion of satisfaction is presented, followed by some objections, and replies, to PWB as satisfaction. Finally, some rival accounts of PWB are discussed and critiqued—notably, an account of cognitive life-satisfaction that resembles theories of “life-satisfaction” in happiness theory. The claim is that hedonism supplies the best answer to what makes the experience of our lives go best for us. In the closing chapter, I make some suggestions concerning the significance of this fact. Advisors/Committee Members: Varner, Gary E. (advisor), Grau, James (committee member), LeBuffe, Michael L. (committee member), Radzik, Linda C. (committee member).

Subjects/Keywords: well-being; hedonism

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APA (6th Edition):

Campbell, S. M. (2006). Phenomenal well-being. (Masters Thesis). Texas A&M University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Campbell, Stephen Michael. “Phenomenal well-being.” 2006. Masters Thesis, Texas A&M University. Accessed October 24, 2020.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Campbell, Stephen Michael. “Phenomenal well-being.” 2006. Web. 24 Oct 2020.


Campbell SM. Phenomenal well-being. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Texas A&M University; 2006. [cited 2020 Oct 24]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Campbell SM. Phenomenal well-being. [Masters Thesis]. Texas A&M University; 2006. Available from: