Desire Satisfaction Theory of Human Welfare

The desire satisfaction theory by Shafer Landau asserts that satisfaction in human life is achieved through the satisfaction or accomplishment of the desires in one’s life. Whatever is good in your life leads to a life that is full of satisfaction, while whatever is unpleasant or undesired leads to sadness and frustration in life. Things in life may be deemed to be necessary but they are only beneficial in one’s life if they lead to the fulfillment of one’s desires. According to Landau, (2010, p.103) since human beings are different and there is an infinite number of desires, satisfaction therefore cannot be confined or be guided by the achievement of some specific desires. Different people have different perspectives on what constitutes fulfillment and what constitutes happiness. Every person therefore has different criteria through which their deepest desires are fulfilled and through which they measure success or failure (Landau 2010, p.107).


The desire satisfaction theory has several attractions which would make it practical and palatable to the many needs of modern day society. The theory offers a variety of experience by asserting the differences in desire and satisfaction of the desires, it offers independence and personal authority, it gives the person freedom from objective values, strengthens motivation and justifies the pursuit of self-interest and, lastly, it offers people a chance to determine what is good for them (Fitzpatrick & Campling 2001, p.145-155). These attractions are a very real and practical aspect of the modern man who desires a high level of independence in living his life. The attractions put forward by Landau such as offering independence on desire satisfaction and also independence in how a person fulfills his own desires in addition to objectivity not constricting people in their choices is consistent not only with modern day thinking but also with legal instruments such as the constitution (2010, p.111).

The self-desire theory, however, has shortcomings when it comes to real life application. Landau asserts that if something fulfills the desire of a person, then it is good for the person. This is a simplistic view of how the real world operates as this is not always true. In some instances, the accomplishment of goals may not necessarily be for the good of the person while, in other instances, a totally unexpected or unpleasant thing may lead to satisfaction or fulfillment of the person (Fitzpatrick & Camping 2005, p.189-194). It is also erroneous to believe that the attainment of the object of desire will result into satisfaction or fulfillment since in some instances the attainment of such desire may not be adequate to fulfill the desire.

Desire is, in some cases, tempered with disinterestedness in the object of our desire. The fulfillment of such desires may not lead to any profit to the person yet they would still have the desire. Desires are sometimes led by passing fancies which may have a lot of intensity yet possess no tangible benefit to the person (Landau 2010, p.114-117). The fulfillment of self-desire may in some instances lead to disappointment instead of a sense of fulfillment. Desire is also a function of upbringing and as such satisfaction will also be affected by this. People may also desire things which would be harmful to them, for instance, masochists do things that would not be beneficial to them. The theory is also subject to the weakness of not holding the individual to rational and practical criticism in instances of desires that are negative.


The theory of desire satisfaction may have some shortcomings but it also has very strong points which deserve consideration. With the modern society being more attuned to values of independence and liberty of the individual, this theory offers a practical platform for such thinking.