What do we Want from a Theory of Happiness?

Metaphilosophy 34 (3):305-329 (2003)
Dan Haybron
Saint Louis University
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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References found in this work BETA

Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics.L. W. Sumner - 1996 - Oxford University Press.
Commodities and Capabilities.Amartya Sen - 1999 - Oxford University Press India.

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Citations of this work BETA

On Being Happy or Unhappy.Daniel M. Haybron - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):287–317.
Good and Good for You: An Affect Theory of Happiness.Laura Sizer - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):133-163.
How to Theorize About Multiple Realization.David Barrett - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (5):674-690.
How Successfully Can We Measure Well-Being Through Measuring Happiness?Sam Wren-Lewis - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (4):417-432.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Happiness.Dan Haybron - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On Being Happy or Unhappy.Daniel M. Haybron - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):287–317.
"Happiness" and Economics.Mark Chekola - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 5:175-180.
Happiness and Pleasure.Daniel M. Haybron - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):501-528.
What is This Thing Called Happiness?Fred Feldman - 2010 - Oxford University Press.


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