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Dimensions of Wellbeing


PIs: Mona Simion and Christoph Kelp

Scientific Adviser: Emma Gordon

Postdoctoral Researcher: Christopher Willard-Kyle

Funding: Therme Group and the University of Glasgow (£680,031)

Project website:


This project will be the first of its kind to approach what is an important question in bioethics: ‘What is wellbeing’?—one that has wider implications for public policy beyond the academy—in a way that is seriously informed from work in contemporary epistemology, value theory, philosophy of biology, and psychology.  

Debates surrounding the nature of wellbeing have largely been conducted in philosophy and psychology separately from each other. Philosophers have looked into the nature of the phenomenon via conceptual and metaphysical analysis. Psychologists have used empirical investigation to try to figure out what generates wellbeing in people like us. The absence of synergy between the two fields of research has created research blind spots in both camps: on one hand, philosophical research has proceeded largely uninformed by actual people’s experiences, and has relied merely upon theoretical intuitions in favour or against a theory of wellbeing. On the other hand, in trying to investigate what generates wellbeing in actual people without being informed by a philosophical theory of the nature of wellbeing, psychologists have encountered the difficulty of lack of clarity concerning what it is that they should be testing for to begin with.  

This project aims to bridge the two fields of philosophy and psychology and develop a novel, integrated theory of wellbeing. ​The project will argue for a broadly Aristotelian, multi-dimensional conception of wellbeing, grounded in the philosophy of biological functions. In particular, it will be argued that human systems serve etiological cognitive, emotive, physical and social functions, which, in turn, generate biological norms for proper functioning. Full wellbeing, it is argued, arises when these norms are met across all dimensions.  

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