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Valuing the Flourishing Life

Charles Pickles


In this paper it will be argued that the naturalist metaphysical assumptions of scientific attention to psychological, physical and behavioural aspects of the person, with particular attention to the explanatory normative promise of evolutionary psychology, might be necessary, but are not sufficient to establish any final picture of the flourishing person. How and what we are shaped to be, is amongst these factors, a consequence of our capacity to escape the causal determinants of biology and be responsive to matters of value as embodied in our social institutions. Because we are self-reflective, imaginative and critical, we construct varying cultures which sometimes embody very different pictures of what is to be valued and what is to count as identity and flourishing with respect to those values. If this is the case, then it is also necessarily the case that any visions of healthcare incorporating a broad scope directed towards flourishing and wellbeing will incorporate a picture of the healthy person governed by some ethical, socio-political or religious framework. Values so derived might sometimes be unwittingly implicit in a putatively neutral ‘scientific’ account of wellbeing.


Culture, evolution, flourishing, identity, science, values

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