The shape of a life hypothesis holds, very roughly, that lives are better when they have an upward, rather than downward, slope in terms of momentary well-being. This hypothesis is plausible and has been thought to cause problems for traditional principles of prudential value/rationality. In this article, I conduct an inquiry into the shape of a life hypothesis that addresses two crucial questions. The first question is: what is the most plausible underlying explanation of the significance of a life’s shape? The second question is: given its most plausible explanation, what does the shape of a life hypothesis teach us about the nature of prudential value?
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