Commentary


Authors
Erik Angner
Stockholm University
Abstract
In the history of Western philosophy, questions of well-being and happiness have played a central role for some 2,500 years. Yet, when it comes to the systematic empirical study of happiness and satisfaction, philosophers are relative latecomers. Empirically-minded psychologists began studying systematically the determinants and distribution of happiness and satisfaction – understood as positive or desirable subjectively experienced mental states – during the 1920’s and 30’s, as personality psychology emerged as a bona fide subdiscipline of psychology shortly after World War I (Angner, 2005a). The first philosopher to take this literature seriously, to my knowledge, was Nicholas Rescher (1972). The topic reappeared in the philosophical literature in the 90’s, as L. W. Sumner (1996) developed his account of well-being as life satisfaction in a manner that appears to have been inspired by the empirical literature, and again in the 00’s, when a number of younger philosophers, apparently independently, turned to this literature in order to examine how it can inform, and be informed by, moral philosophy and philosophy of science (Alexandrova, 2005; Angner, 2005b; Haybron, 2000; Tiberius, 2006)
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