Appendix F: Rationale for List of Ten “Flourishing Factors” in Chapter 6

In Chapter 6 of Our Grandchildren Redesigned I propose an ethical yardstick for assessing human enhancement technologies, drawing on both positive psychology and the “capabilities approach” in developmental economics.  Both the positive psychologists and the proponents of the Capabilities Approach have generated comprehensive lists of factors involved in human flourishing. But these two lists – while overlapping to a degree – are also complementary in certain important respects. The list generated by Peterson and Seligman emphasizes the causes and promoters of human flourishing, whereas the list generated by Nussbaum stresses the necessary conditions for human flourishing. I therefore decided it would be fruitful to meld the two lists, taking the most salient elements from both and incorporating them into a single meta-framework. My own list of ten factors in human flourishing, therefore, is a result of the combination and consolidation of elements drawn from all these sources simultaneously.

Here is how I proceeded. First, I laid out the Peterson/Seligman list and Nussbaum’s list side-by-side, looking for elements of obvious overlap, as well as for elements that were salient on one list but absent from the other. When elements overlapped, I consolidated them into a single category: this was the case, for example, with the concept of Humanity in the Peterson/Seligman list and the concept of Affiliation in Nussbaum’s list. I therefore united them under a new label of my own invention, Interpersonal Connectedness.

On the other hand, when key elements were prominent on one list but absent from the other, I created a new label for my own meta-list and sought to consolidate as many as possible of the related concepts under that label. This was the case, for example, with Nussbaum’s three elements of Life, Bodily health, and Bodily integrity (ie., basic security), all of which were absent from the Peterson/Seligman list, and which I duly consolidated under the new umbrella-rubric of Security on my own list.

By proceeding in this fashion, combing systematically back and forth through both lists, I eventually settled on ten key factors that comprised my own meta-list. I set forth below, for the reader’s perusal, the Peterson/Seligman list, and the Nussbaum list, followed by my own list of ten factors. Under each of the ten items on my meta-list I lay out the elements from the other two lists that struck me as fitting best under that particular rubric. This procedure, admittedly, involved a great many “judgment calls” that could arguably have gone differently. I am wide open to suggestions from readers about possible revisions, additions, or refinements.

 

Peterson and Seligman’s List of 24 Character Strengths and Virtues

 

Wisdom and Knowledge

Creativity; Curiosity; Open-mindedness; Love of learning; Perspective (wisdom)

 

Courage

Bravery; Persistence; Integrity; Vitality

 

Humanity

Love; Kindness; Social intelligence

 

Justice

Citizenship; Fairness; Leadership

 

Temperance

Forgiveness and mercy; Humility and modesty; Prudence; Self-regulation

 

Transcendence

Appreciation of beauty and elegance; Gratitude; Hope; Humor; Spirituality

 

Source: Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (Oxford, 2004).

 

 

Nussbaum’s List of Ten Key Human Capabilities

 

Life

Bodily health

Bodily integrity (ie., basic security)

Senses, imagination, and thought (ie., literacy, education, free speech, etc.)

Emotions (ie., interpersonal relationships and affective connections)

Practical reason (ie., the ability to develop and pursue meaningful life-plans)

Affiliation (ie., participation in groups and communities, in a manner compatible with one’s dignity)

Other species (ie., concern for the environment)

Play

Control over one’s environment (ie., political and civil rights, as well as property and labor rights).

 

Source: Martha Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (Harvard, 2011).

 

 

Bess’s Melded List

 

Individual dimension

Security

Dignity

Autonomy

Personal fulfillment

Authenticity

Pursuit of practical wisdom

 

Societal dimension

Fairness

Interpersonal connectedness

Civic engagement

Transcendence

 

 

Individual dimension

 

Security

Life (from Nussbaum list)

Bodily health (from Nussbaum list)

Bodily integrity (ie., basic security) (from Nussbaum list)

 

Dignity

Affiliation (ie., participation in groups and communities, in a manner compatible with one’s dignity) (from Nussbaum list)

Control over one’s environment (ie., political and civil rights, as well as property and labor rights) (from Nussbaum list)

Justice (from Peterson/Seligman list): Citizenship; Fairness; Leadership

 

Autonomy

Practical reason (ie., the ability to develop and pursue meaningful life-plans) (from Nussbaum list)

Control over one’s environment (ie., political and civil rights, as well as property and labor rights) (from Nussbaum list)

Courage (from Peterson/Seligman list): Bravery; Persistence; Integrity; Vitality

 

Personal fulfillment

Senses, imagination, and thought (ie., literacy, education, free speech, etc.) (from Nussbaum list)

Play (from Nussbaum list)

Transcendence (from Peterson/Seligman list): Appreciation of beauty and elegance; Gratitude; Hope; Humor; Spirituality

Wisdom and Knowledge (from Peterson/Seligman list): Creativity; Curiosity; Open-mindedness; Love of learning; Perspective (wisdom)

Courage (from Peterson/Seligman list): Bravery; Persistence; Integrity; Vitality

 

Authenticity

Wisdom and Knowledge (from Peterson/Seligman list): Creativity; Curiosity; Open-mindedness; Love of learning; Perspective (wisdom)

Courage (from Peterson/Seligman list): Bravery; Persistence; Integrity; Vitality

 

 

Pursuit of practical wisdom

Practical reason (ie., the ability to develop and pursue meaningful life-plans) (from Nussbaum list)

Other species (ie., concern for the environment) (from Nussbaum list)

Wisdom and Knowledge (from Peterson/Seligman list): Creativity; Curiosity; Open-mindedness; Love of learning; Perspective (wisdom)

Temperance (from Peterson/Seligman list): Forgiveness and mercy; Humility and modesty; Prudence; Self-regulation

 

 

Societal Dimension

 

Fairness

Control over one’s environment (ie., political and civil rights, as well as property and labor rights) (from Nussbaum list)

Justice (from Peterson/Seligman list): Citizenship; Fairness; Leadership

 

Interpersonal connectedness

Emotions (ie., interpersonal relationships and affective connections) (from Nussbaum list)

Affiliation (ie., participation in groups and communities, in a manner compatible with one’s dignity) (from Nussbaum list)

Humanity (from Peterson/Seligman list): Love; Kindness; Social intelligence

Temperance (from Peterson/Seligman list): Forgiveness and mercy; Humility and modesty; Prudence; Self-regulation

 

Civic engagement

Affiliation (ie., participation in groups and communities, in a manner compatible with one’s dignity) (from Nussbaum list)

Justice (from Peterson/Seligman list): Citizenship; Fairness; Leadership

 

Transcendence

Wisdom and Knowledge (from Peterson/Seligman list): Creativity; Curiosity; Open-mindedness; Love of learning; Perspective (wisdom)

Transcendence (from Peterson/Seligman list): Appreciation of beauty and elegance; Gratitude; Hope; Humor; Spirituality

Humanity (from Peterson/Seligman list): Love; Kindness; Social intelligence

Temperance (from Peterson/Seligman list): Forgiveness and mercy; Humility and modesty; Prudence; Self-regulation