What do we Want from a Theory of Happiness?

Metaphilosophy 34 (3):305-329 (2003)
In this paper I defend a methodology for theorizing about happiness conceived as a type of psychological state. I reject three methods: conceptual or linguistic analysis; scientific naturalism—deferring to our best scientific theories of happiness; and what I call the “pure normative adequacy” approach, according to which the best conception of happiness is the one that best fulfills a particular role in moral theory (e.g., utility). The concept of happiness is foremost a folk notion employed by laypersons who have various practical interests in the matter, and theories of happiness should respect this fact. I identify four such interests in broad terms and then argue for a set of seven desiderata that any theory of happiness ought to satisfy. Though happiness is a psychological kind, its practical character means that the theory of happiness falls within the province of ethics. It should, however, be viewed as autonomous and not merely secondary to moral theory.
Keywords happiness  life satisfaction  ethics  conceptual analysis  methodology  well‐being
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9973.00275
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Daniel M. Haybron (2005). On Being Happy or Unhappy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):287–317.
Laura Sizer (2010). Good and Good for You: An Affect Theory of Happiness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):133-163.
Vasti Roodt (2014). On Public Happiness. South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (4):455–467.

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