How to reason about Well-being in Science, Policy and Philosophy

2 June 2014, 12:30 - 14:00

CRASSH Meeting Room

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress seminar series.  All welcome, but please email Michelle Maciejewska if you wish to attend and to request readings.   Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided.


Dr Anna Alexandrova


While at CRASSH I will be studying what makes a measure of well-being valid and accurate for a given purpose. Well-being is now a firmly established topic of scientific research and a widely used category for outcome evaluation in social policy and medicine. For the past two millennia and, especially now, well-being is also a central topic in philosophy.  What is the connection between these projects?  Ultimately, philosophy will be judged, at least in part, on whether it produces relevant and usable theories of wellbeing; science on whether it discovers empirical truths about things that matter; and policy on whether it correctly applies philosophical and scientific knowledge for the betterment of the human lot. My project is about how to practice these three projects in a joined-up manner, so that each responds to the others. As part of this project I will study how philosophical and psychometric considerations should bear on our choice of measures of well-being, how the context in which a measure is used must determine the key features of this measure and how we can develop better measures of well-being for children, disabled and chronically ill. This research is part of her forthcoming book Contexts of Life: How to Reason About Well-Being in Science and Policy (OUP).


About Anna Alexandrova
Anna Alexandrova is a University Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and a Fellow of King's College. Before coming to Cambridge she taught at the University of Missouri St Louis and received her PhD in 2006 at the University of California San Diego. Anna has written on the the nature of rational choice explanation in the social science, the use of abstract  and idealized models in science and policy,  and concept of well-being. Her writings can be accesses through her website:


For administrative enquiries please contact Michelle Maciejewska