The Ontology of Well-Being in Social Policy and Welfare Practice
Date: 7 September 2023
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
Summary: You are warmly invited to this event, where Professor Steve Smith will be talking about his recent book published by Springer, entitled The Ontology of Well-Being in Social Policy and Welfare Practice. The main question addressed throughout the book is what kind of creatures are we such that we can experience something we call well-being?
According to Professor Smith, addressing this ontological question is fundamental to epistemological issues concerning what we know about well-being, and to normative issues concerning how we should promote well-being as a social value. Yet, surprisingly, it is a question that is often side-lined or ignored in academic and political debates about well-being. In an attempt to address this question, head-on, the book identifies and explores what are named as six features of the human condition: human embodiment, finiteness, sociability, cognition, evaluation, and agency.
Covering a wide range of human experiences, Professor Smith argues that these ontological features reveal the conflicting character of our ‘being human’, which, in turn, has a profound bearing on the possibilities for both increasing and diminishing well-being. He then applies these philosophical insights to a number of social policies and welfare practices, concerning, for example, pensions, disability, bereavement counselling, social prescribing within medical practices, the promotion of mental health, and co-productive practices.