Science and Technology Studies


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STS Research Seminar - Dr Anna Alexandrova (Cambridge) - Weds 31st October

31 October 2018, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

Dr Anna Alexandrova

Anna Alexandrova (HPS, University of Cambridge): 'When well-being becomes a number'

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Department of Science and Technology Studies – Department of Science and Technology Studies.
0207 6791328


Room 110
45: Roberts Building
Torrington Place
United Kingdom

The STS Research Seminar series allows the department to exhibit some of the most interesting recent research in our field. We invite speakers both from UCL and the wider community to present their research to a varied and curious audience. On Wednesday 31st October, Dr Anna Alexandrova will visit the department to give her talk 'Wehn well-being becomes a number'. The talk will begin at 4.30, with refreshments available from 4pm.


After several decades worth of efforts by positive psychologists, happiness economists, statisticians, policy-makers and other activists, well-being is now widely thought to be representable by numbers. Should quantification of this ultimately personal value be opposed and disenchanted or tolerated and even welcomed? I survey the diverse ways in which well-being has been claimed to be quantifiable and cast doubt on criticisms that appeal to the mismatch between well-being ‘properly understood’ in the light of some philosophical theory and the current measures. Such criticism commits a category mistake: well-being ‘properly understood’ is not the target of these measures, as their proponents rather redefine well-being in a way that builds quantifiability into the very concept, for the sake of making it a viable object of public debate. Far more problematic are specific projects in this genre, especially the recent LSE report Origins of Happiness, which attempts to quantify the stable effects of social spending on life satisfaction and uses this to judge policies.


About the Speaker

Dr Anna Alexandrova

Senior Lecturer in philosophy of science at Cambridge University

Anna Alexandrova is a Senior Lecturer in philosophy of science. Before coming to Cambridge she taught at the University of Missouri St Louis (2007–2011) and got her PhD in Philosophy and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego in 2006.

More about Dr Anna Alexandrova