Computing the Quality of Life

  • E. Haavi Morreim
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 21)


The title of this paper invites one to raise an eyebrow. Quality of life is a notion which we want to measure with precision, but seemingly cannot. We want to measure it for a variety of reasons. As individuals we wish not just to live long, but to live well. In seeking health care, for example, we wish not simply to survive, but to ease our pain, to ameliorate our handicaps, to shorten the course of our illnesses, to return as quickly as possible to the pursuit of our life plans and valued activities. As a society we similarly formulate some conception of our collective well-being, which we then pursue through public policies promoting, for example, health, education, defense and national culture. In all these activities, we must rely on judgments about the quality of life. These judgments may be rough, and they may not even be explicit; yet, as individuals or collectively as a society we cannot appraise our current lives or make decisions about our future without at least determining which states of affairs are acceptable and which not, and which alternatives are preferable and worthy of pursuit, which to be avoided. Without such basic judgments of value and priority, we would drift aimlessly, making decisions arbitrarily and ineffectually, wasting effort and resources.


Public Policy England Journal Subjective Quality Subjective Judgment Estrogen Therapy 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Haavi Morreim
    • 1
  1. 1.College of MedicineUniversity of TennesseeMemphisUSA

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