A shallow route to environmentally friendly happiness: Why evidence that we are shallow materialists need not be bad news for the environment(alist)
Graduate studies at Western
Ethics, Place and Environment 13 (1):1 – 10 (2010)
|Abstract||It is natural to assume that we would not be willing to compromise the environment if the conveniences and luxuries thereby gained did not have a substantial positive impact on our happiness. But there is room for skepticism and, in particular, for the thesis that we are compromising the environment to no avail in that our conveniences and luxuries are not having a significant impact on our happiness, making the costs incurred for them a waste. One way of defending the no-avail thesis fits neatly with what I will call the exalted view , according to which the key to human happiness lies in the mental (or spiritual) realm rather than in the material realm. After considering this familiar approach to defending the no-avail thesis, I sketch out a very different approach—one that will, I hope, appeal to those who have doubts about the familiar line of defense. The alternative and novel approach builds on a strand of empirical research on (self-reports concerning) happiness that suggests that we are, in a way, quite shallow, and that our happiness depends on whether we are keeping up with the Joneses. I call this view concerning happiness the worldly view . My reasoning suggests that even if the current rift between exalted pictures of human nature and happiness, on the one hand, and worldly pictures of human nature and happiness, on the other, cannot be repaired, it need not hinder agreement on the plausibility of the no-avail thesis; rather, with the rift come two different routes to the same thesis. I conclude that we should take the no-avail thesis very seriously, and that evidence that we are shallow materialists need not be bad news for the environment(alist)|
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