Philosophers are stereotyped as studying things like, “What is a good life?” To break this stereotype, I’ve spent some time studying a different question, “What is a bad life?” More seriously, I have applied causal network accounts of well-being to ill-being, particularly depression and digital ill-being. My latest paper on this has now been accepted for publication. So now I can share it. While I prepare the audiopaper, you can check out the abstract and acknowledgments (below) or the free preprint.
Depression is a common and devastating instance of ill-being which deserves an account. Moreover, the ill-being of depression is impacted by digital technology: some uses of digital technology increase such ill-being while other uses of digital technology increase well-being. So a good account of ill-being would explicate the antecedents of depressive symptoms and their relief, digitally and otherwise. This paper borrows a causal network account of well-being and applies it to ill-being, particularly depression. Causal networks are found to provide a principled, coherent, intuitively plausible, and empirically adequate account of cases of depression in every-day and digital contexts. Causal network accounts of ill-being also offer philosophical, scientific, and practical utility. Insofar as other accounts of ill-being cannot offer these advantages, we should prefer causal network accounts of ill-being.
This paper was improved by Rachel Amoroso, Aaron Brooks, Chris Burr, Mike Bishop, Frances Fairbairn, Mary Marcous, Al Mele, Sam Sims, and anonymous reviewers.