A series of causal networks involved in ill-being.

New Paper — Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being

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 in The Ethics of Digital Well-being (2020). So now I can share it. You you check out the abstract and acknowledgments (below), listen to the free audiopaper, and/or read 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.

Related Posts

Published by

Nick Byrd

Nick is a cognitive scientist at Florida State University studying reasoning, wellbeing, and willpower. Check out his blog at byrdnick.com/blog