Ethics, Place and Environment 13 (1):27 – 30 (2010)

Christopher Morgan-Knapp
State University of New York at Binghamton
Chrisoula Andreou argues that even if our happiness is determined by our material standard of living, our standard of living could be lowered without lowering our happiness. In this response, I show how this claim can be challenged on both conceptual and empirical grounds. Conceptually, how justified we are in believing her claim depends on how we conceive of the 'we' it refers to. Empirically, there is economic evidence in tension with each of the several interpretations her position admits of. I conclude that Andreou has not provided an argument that can reasonably persuade committed materialists that reducing their standard of living will not reduce their happiness. And I suggest that the search for such an argument ought to include attempts to articulate and defend a theory of well-being that shows how tenuous the connection between material luxury and quality of life really is
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DOI 10.1080/13668790903554121
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