Broadening the Public and Policy Discourse
Edited by Timo J. Hämäläinen and Juliet Michaelson
Chapter 7: Creating supportive environments to foster reasonableness and achieve sustainable well-being
Well-being depends on others and the environment. Our capacity to meet our needs and pursue a meaningful life is affected by the actions of other people as well as the shared environmental resources on which we all depend. These impacts play out unequally across socio-economic, geographic and political boundaries. Excessive resource use by industrialized nations leads to exploitation, both human and natural, in underdeveloped yet resource-rich nations. On a smaller scale, how farmers care for a shared pasture can have an impact on the well-being of those with whom they share it. Inequalities range across temporal boundaries as well - the well-being of future generations depends on the decisions and actions of the current generation, just as ours has depended on those of past generations. If our goal is to improve the well-being of all people, then maximizing the individual well-being of some at the cost of others and the environment cannot be an adaptive solution. Consequently, policies aimed at improving the well-being of current as well as future generations must simultaneously address individual well-being and the larger good (Kjell 2011). To promote this more egalitarian well-being, we address the needs for reasonableness and coexistence that can foster the well-being of others as well as ourselves. We begin by describing our conceptualization of reasonableness, its commonalities with and differences from current notions of well-being (in particular, subjective well-being) and the centrality of information in understanding ways to foster reasonableness.
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