19 Feb 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building, Cambridge, CB3 9DT


Wellbeing is a concept that plays a central role in political and moral debates about health, education, and disability for example, as well as in economic debates about resource distribution more generally. But the nature of wellbeing is unclear: is a good life a life in which your preferences are satisfied? or is a good life a life of pleasure? or is it something else? Indeed, irrespective of what you think the nature of wellbeing is, it is also unclear how wellbeing might best be measured. To what extent is a person’s preferences or their self-reports of their lived experience a good guide to their degree of wellbeing? Do preferences need to be “purified” or “laundered” first? What to make of the problem of adaptive preference? When should peoples’ first-hand testimony be taken at face value, and when should it be examined critically?

We will examine these issues by reading some recent debates in economics and philosophy. Our particular emphasis towards the second half of the reading group will be the case of illness and disability.

Want to share this event? Download a poster here

This week’s reading: 

Gerardo Infante, Guilhem Lecouteux and Robert Sugden, ‘Preference purification and the inner rational agent: a critique of the conventional wisdom of behavioural welfare economics’ Journal of Economic Methodology 23, 1 (2016): 1-25.

D M Hausman, ‘On the Econ Within’ Journal of Economic Methodology 23, 1 (2016): 26-32.


This event is hosted by the ERC-funded project ‘Qualitative and Quantitative Social Science: A Unified Logic of Causal Inference?’. QUALITY is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 715530)


22 January 2019

What Preferences Really Are.

29 January 2019

Theorising Child Wellbeing.

5 February 2019

Preference, Evidence and Welfare.

12 February 2019

What are Adaptive Preferences?

19 February 2019

Preference Purification.

26 February 2019

Taking their Word for it: Theories of Disability.

5 March 2019

Is Wellbeing Possible in Illness?

12 March 2019

Evaluating the Quality of Dying and Death.

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk