in: Ethics and Social Welfare 8 (3), 233-247
Multidimensional theories of well-being are locked into a debate about value judgment. They seek to settle which dimensions should matter for measurement and policy, and, more importantly, on what grounds should we decide what should matter. Moreover, there is a gulf between the theory and the practice, given that measurement and policy are rarely rooted in a coherent ethical framework. Our paper engages in the debate concerning the legitimate grounds for selecting dimensions. Combining Sen’s conception of capabilities and Rawls’ method of political constructivism we explore whether the Constitution and its public culture can be used as an ethically sound informational base for selecting dimensions, and if so, why. We apply this ‘constitutional approach’ to the Italian case with the aim to derive a set of publicly justifiable dimensions of well-being. It is a long standing Constitution with a broad public consultation at its base, which still enjoys a wide consensus. We seek to show why there is a need for more ethically sound methodological approaches to measuring well-being, pointing out the advantages of the constitutional approach, and how it may enrich the work of practitioners engaged in the policies of well-being.