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Well-being, value, Thoreau, perfectionism


This article develops and defends an account of prudential value and disvalue that is constructed out of ideas found in Thoreau’s Walden. The core claim is that prudential value consists in responding appropriately to those things that make the world better, and that prudential disvalue consists in encountering those things that make it worse. The core argument is that responding appropriately to objective value and avoiding objective disvalue are our aims in so far as we are evaluative creatures, and that our evaluative nature is fundamental in the context of inquiring into our own good. I conclude by discussing respects in which the Thoreauvian account improves upon some alternative accounts of well-being.

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This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Value Inquiry.

The final authenticated version is available online at:

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Philosophy Commons



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