The four qualities of life: Ordering concepts and measures of the good life

R Veenhoven

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Abstract

The terms 'quality-of-life', 'wellbeing' and 'happiness' denote different meanings; sometimes they are used as an umbrella term for all of value, and the other times to denote special merits. This paper is about the specific meanings of the terms. It proposes a classification based on two bi-partitions; between life 'chances' and life 'results', and between 'outer' and 'inner' qualities. Together these dichotomies imply four qualities of life: 1) livability of the environment, 2) life-ability of the individual, 3) external utility of life and 4) inner appreciation of life. This fourfold matrix is applied in three ways: firstly to place related notions and alternative classifications, secondly to explore substantive meanings in various measures for quality of life and thirdly to find out whether quality-of-life can be measured comprehensively. This last question is answered in the negative. Current sum-scores make little sense. The most inclusive summary measure is still how long and happily people live.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Exploration of happiness: Present and future perspectives
EditorsA DellaFave
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Pages195-226
Number of pages31
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

SeriesHappiness Studies Book Series

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