You've made some really good points here and I agree with most of it! And we're on the same page in terms of "hedonistic utilitarianism, with a moral circle that includes basically all sentient beings, across any point in time".
I guess my main motivation for wanting to see a historical study of well-being is because I feel that, to fully understand what makes humans happy, it is valuable to consider a wide range of possible human life experiences. Studying history does this: we can consider a wide range of societies, lifestyles, circums... (read more)
I agree that the "first approximation" I mentioned -- looking at generic factors that we expect to correlate with wellbeing, such as slavery or servitude, personal freedoms, violence -- would be a subset of "1. The history of various types of growth and progress...".
But I feel like a more detailed investigation of wellbeing/suffering through history lies outside of "1. The history of various types of growth and progress...". I say this because what we call "progress" does not necessarily correlate with wellbeing/suf... (read more)
I would love to see a study on the history of wellbeing and suffering. This is perhaps more challenging as our understanding of how people suffered in the past is (arguably) poorly understood (as is our understanding of exactly how/why people suffer today!). But a first order approximation could look at generic factors that we expect to correlate with wellbeing, such as the proportion of people living in slavery or servitude; the personal freedoms people had; the levels of violence; and so on. Then a more detailed study -- which would probably ... (read more)