Moral philosophers agree that welfare matters. But they disagree about what it is, or how much it matters. In this vital new work, Wayne Sumner presents an original theory of welfare, investigating its nature and discussing its importance. He considers and rejects all notable theories of welfare, both objective and subjective, including hedonism and theories founded on desire or preference. His own theory connects welfare closely with happiness or life satisfaction. Reacting against the value pluralism that currently dominates moral (...) philosophy, he advances welfare as the only basic ethical value. He concludes by discussing the implications of this thesis for ethical and political theory. Written in clear, non-technical language, and including a definitive survey of other work in this area, Sumner's book is essential reading for moral philosophers, political theorists, and welfare economists. (shrink)
Ancient ethical theories, based on the notions of virtue and happiness, have struck many as an attractive alternative to modern theories. But we cannot find out whether this is true until we understand ancient ethics--and to do this we need to examine the basic structure of ancient ethical theory, not just the details of one or two theories. In this book, Annas brings together the results of a wide-ranging study of ancient ethical philosophy and presents it in a way (...) that is easily accessible to anyone with an interest in ancient or modern ethics. She examines the fundamental notions of happiness and virtue, the role of nature in ethical justification and the relation between concern for self and concern for others. Her careful examination of the ancient debates and arguments shows that many widespread assumptions about ancient ethics are quite mistaken. Ancient ethical theories are not egoistic, and do not depend for their acceptance on metaphysical theories of a teleological kind. Most centrally, they are recognizably theories of morality, and the ancient disputes about the place of virtue in happiness can be seen as akin to modern disputes about the demands of morality. (shrink)
Happiness, like other basic emotions, has visual properties that create the conditions for happiness to be perceived in others. This is to say that happiness is perceivable. Its visual properties are to be identified with those facial expressions that are characteristic of happiness. Yet saying that something is perceivable does not suffice for us to conclude that it is perceived. We therefore need to show that happiness is perceived. Empirical evidence suggests that the visual system (...) functions to perceive happiness as well as other basic emotions. Experiences that can be had simply by virtue of how the perceptual system functions are known as observations. I will thus argue that visual experiences in which we become aware of others’ happiness are observations. This approach will provide the necessary conceptual framework to show that we have perceptual knowledge of others’ happiness. (shrink)
Recent scientific research has settled on a purely descriptive definition of happiness that is focused solely on agents’ psychological states (high positive affect, low negative affect, high life satisfaction). In contrast to this understanding, recent research has suggested that the ordinary concept of happiness is also sensitive to the moral value of agents’ lives. Five studies systematically investigate and explain the impact of morality on ordinary assessments of happiness. Study 1 demonstrates that moral judgments influence assessments of (...)happiness not only for untrained participants, but also for academic researchers and even in those who study happiness specifically. Studies 2 and 3 then respectively ask whether this effect may be explained by general motivational biases or beliefs in a just world. In both cases, we find evidence against these explanations. Study 4 shows that the impact of moral judgments cannot be explained by changes in the perception of descriptive psychological states. Finally, Study 5 compares the impact of moral and non-moral value, and provides evidence that unlike non-moral value, moral value is part of the criteria that govern the ordinary concept of happiness. Taken together, these studies provide a specific explanation of how and why the ordinary concept of happiness deviates from the definition used by researchers studying happiness. (shrink)
Some puzzles about happiness -- Pt. I. Some things that happiness isn't. Sensory hedonism about happiness -- Kahneman's "objective happiness" -- Subjective local preferentism about happiness -- Whole life satisfaction concepts of happiness -- Pt. II. What happiness is. What is this thing called happiness? -- Attitudinal hedonism about happiness -- Eudaimonism -- The problem of inauthentic happiness -- Disgusting happiness -- Our authority over our own happiness -- (...) Pt. III. Implications for the empirical study of happiness. Measuring happiness -- Empirical research; philosophical conclusions -- The central points of the project as a whole. (shrink)
What is the relationship between meaning in life and happiness? In psychological research, subjective meaning and happiness are often contrasted with each other. I argue that while the objective meaningfulness of a life is distinct from happiness, subjective or felt meaning is a key constituent of happiness, which is best understood as a multidimensional affective condition. Measures of felt meaning should consequently be included in empirical studies of the causes and correlates of happiness.
A ubiquitous argument against mental-state accounts of well-being is based on the notion that mental states like happiness and satisfaction simply cannot be measured. The purpose of this paper is to articulate and to assess this “argument from measurability.” My main thesis is that the argument fails: on the most charitable interpretation, it relies on the false proposition that measurement requires the existence of an observable ordering satisfying conditions like transitivity. The failure of the argument from measurability, however, does (...) not translate into a defense of mental-state accounts as accounts of well-being or of measures of happiness and satisfaction as measures of well-being. Indeed, I argue, the ubiquity of the argument from measurability may have obscured other, very real problems associated with mental-state accounts of well-being – above all, that happiness and satisfaction fail to track well-being – and with measures of happiness and satisfaction – above all, the tendency toward reification. I conclude that the central problem associated with the measurement of, e.g., happiness as a subjectively experienced mental state is not that it is too hard to measure, but rather that it is too easy to measure. (shrink)
This paper argues against hedonistic theories of happiness. First, hedonism is too inclusive: many pleasures cannot plausibly be construed as constitutive of happiness. Second, any credible theory must count either attitudes of life satisfaction, affective states such as mood, or both as constituents of happiness; yet neither sort of state reduces to pleasure. Hedonism errs in its attempt to reduce happiness, which is at least partly dispositional, to purely episodic experiential states. The dispositionality of happiness (...) also undermines weakened nonreductive forms of hedonism, as some happiness-constitutive states are not pleasures in any sense. Moreover, these states can apparently fail to exhibit the usual hedonic properties; sadness, for instance, can sometimes be pleasant. Finally, the nonhedonistic accounts are adequate if not superior on grounds of practical and theoretical utility, quite apart from their superior conformity to the folk notion of happiness. (shrink)
This paper argues that the new science of positive psychology is founded on a whole series of fallacious arguments; these involve circular reasoning, tautology, failure to clearly define or properly apply terms, the identification of causal relations where none exist, and unjustified generalisation. Instead of demonstrating that positive attitudes explain achievement, success, well-being and happiness, positive psychology merely associates mental health with a particular personality type: a cheerful, outgoing, goal-driven, status-seeking extravert.
For Kant, any authentic moral demands are wholly distinct from the demands of prudence. This has led critics to complain that Kantian moral demands are incompatible with our human nature as happiness-seekers. Kant’s defenders have pointed out, correctly, that Kant can and does assert that it is permissible, at least in principle, to pursue our own happiness. But this response does not eliminate the worry that a life organized around the pursuit of virtue might turn out to be (...) one from which we cannot expect any of this (permissible) happiness. To address this worry, Kant would need to establish that there is a kind of harmony between virtue and our own happiness that can give us confidence that aiming at morality does not require us to abandon our hope for happiness in this life. This paper aims to show that Kant—building on insights from Rousseau that Kant identifies with Cynicism—does offer an account of such a harmony between virtue and worldly happiness. (shrink)
In today’s world we appear to place a premium on happiness. Happiness is often portrayed, directly or indirectly, as one of the key aims of education. To suggest that education is concerned with promoting unhappiness or even despair would, in many contexts, seem outlandish. This paper challenges these widely held views. Focusing on the work of the great Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, I argue that despair, the origins of which lie in our reflective consciousness, is a defining feature (...) of human life. Education, I maintain, should not be seen as a flight from despair but as a process of deepening our understanding of suffering and its potentially pivotal role in our humanisation. In developing these ideas, I draw on Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death and Unamuno’s The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations, among other sources. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The most popular concepts of happiness among psychologists and philosophers nowadays are concepts of happiness according to which happiness is defined as " satisfaction with life as a whole ". Such concepts are " Whole Life Satisfaction " concepts of happiness. I show that there are hundreds of non-equivalent ways in which a WLS conception of happiness can be developed. However, every precise conception either requires actual satisfaction with life as a whole or requires hypothetical (...) satisfaction with life as a whole. I show that a person can be "happy" at a time even though he is not actually satisfied with his life as a whole at that time. I also show that a person can be "happy" at a time even though it is not correct to say that if he were to think about his life at that time, he would be satisfied with it as a whole. My thesis is that if you think that happiness is the Good, you should avoid defining happiness as whole life satisfaction. (shrink)
I argue that "quality of life" can be understood in three main ways: as purchasing power, together with social and political goods; as the subjective state of mind: happiness; happiness as related to the meaningfulness of one's profession or cause.
The Conquest of Happiness is Bertrand Russell’s recipe for good living. First published in 1930, it pre-dates the current obsession with self-help by decades. Leading the reader step by step through the causes of unhappiness and the personal choices, compromises and sacrifices that lead to the final, affirmative conclusion of ‘The Happy Man’, this is popular philosophy, or even self-help, as it should be written.
In the novel A Burnout-Out Case, Graham Greene argues for an intimate relationship between burnout and happiness. The novel claims that a life worth living is a continuous balancing between something painful, e.g. burnout and something desirable, e.g. happiness. In this essay, I try to make a case for the happiness of burnout. By examining the case story of a young artist, who suffered from burnout, I describe how such suffering might open up for a necessary reevaluation (...) of the values that actually make sense. Such creation of new values is what eventually leads to more happy moments, not happiness per se. This essay provides a philosophical reflection regarding the relationship between happiness and burnout in order to say something regarding which life is worth living. (shrink)
Paul Bloomfield’s latest book, The Virtues of Happiness, is an excellent discussion of what constitutes living the Good Life. It is a self-admittedly ambitious book, as he seeks to show that people who act immorally necessarily fall short of living well. Instead of arguing that immorality is inherently irrational, he puts it in terms of it being inherently harmful in regards to one’s ability to achieve the Good Life. It’s ambitious because he tries to argue this starting from grounds (...) which the immoralist (usually an egoist) would accept. He starts from premises about our desire to be happy, and how happiness is inconsistent with a lack of self-respect, which he claims are premises even an egoist would accept. His key argument is then that self-respect is tied to one’s respect for others, so that being happy is therefore inconsistent with a disrespect for others. He then goes on to argue about the necessity of virtue for truly being as happy as we can be. -/- Bloomfield’s book is an interesting synthesis of the traditional Greek focus on eudaimonia (i.e. living well) with the Kantian concern of a respect for persons. I found myself in agreement with much of what he had to say, making this review a bit challenging. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to point out areas where, despite my agreement on his conclusions, I think his arguments could be challenged and would require further support. (shrink)
This paper discusses the structural relationship between ideals on pleasure and pleasure as a human psychological phenomenon in Chinese thought. It describes the psychological phenomenon of pleasure, and compares different approaches by pre-Qin Confucian and Daoist scholars. It also analyzes its development in Song and Ming Confucianism. Finally, in the conclusion, the issue is transferred to a general understanding of happiness, so as to demonstrate the modern value of the classical ideological experience.
Defenders of happiness surveys often claim that individuals are infallible judges of their own happiness. I argue that this claim is untrue. Happiness, like other emotions, has three features that make it vulnerable to introspective error: it is dispositional, it is intentional, and it is publically manifest. Other defenders of the survey method claim, more modestly, that individuals are in general reliable judges of their own happiness. I argue that this is probably true, but that it (...) limits what happiness surveys might tell us, for the very claim that people are reliable judges of their own happiness implies that we already have a measure of how happy they are, independent of self-reports. Happiness surveys may help us extend and refine this prior measure, but they cannot, on pain of unintelligibility, supplant it altogether. (shrink)
_The Promise of Happiness_ is a provocative cultural critique of the imperative to be happy. It asks what follows when we make our desires and even our own happiness conditional on the happiness of others: “I just want you to be happy”; “I’m happy if you’re happy.” Combining philosophy and feminist cultural studies, Sara Ahmed reveals the affective and moral work performed by the “happiness duty,” the expectation that we will be made happy by taking part in (...) that which is deemed good, and that by being happy ourselves, we will make others happy. Ahmed maintains that happiness is a promise that directs us toward certain life choices and away from others. Happiness is promised to those willing to live their lives in the right way. Ahmed draws on the intellectual history of happiness, from classical accounts of ethics as the good life, through seventeenth-century writings on affect and the passions, eighteenth-century debates on virtue and education, and nineteenth-century utilitarianism. She engages with feminist, antiracist, and queer critics who have shown how happiness is used to justify social oppression, and how challenging oppression causes unhappiness. Reading novels and films including_ Mrs. Dalloway_, _The Well of Loneliness_, _Bend It Like Beckham_, and _Children of Men_, Ahmed considers the plight of the figures who challenge and are challenged by the attribution of happiness to particular objects or social ideals: the feminist killjoy, the unhappy queer, the angry black woman, and the melancholic migrant. Through her readings she raises critical questions about the moral order imposed by the injunction to be happy. (shrink)
The Dalai Lama once wrote that the object of human existence was to be happy. This sounds extremely glib as happiness in the popular imagination is a feeling and in the words of the song 'the greatest gift that we possess'. On the other hand, von Hugel wrote 'Religion has never made me happy;it's no use shutting your eyes to the fact that the deeper you go, the more alone you will find yourself' This small masterpiece by the late (...) Fr Herbert McCabe of the Dominican order steers a steady courss between these two extremes. We feels instinctively that human beings are designed to enjoy themselves and to be happy and yet we are told that suffering is good for the soul. But in the Catholic tradition the true object of human existence is the vision of God and nothing less than this will ever make us truly happy. But Fr McCabe explores much deeper issues. Is Happiness a pleasure or a pain? You hardly know. Certainly it is not a comfort for comfort spells seciurity and hapiness can take you out of yourself to a degree where all secutiry is left behind. Behind a feeling of exultation, you can sense the flame of incandescent terror. This short book is entirely original and will further enhance McCabe's posthumous reputation. (shrink)
According to the popular Whole Life Satisfaction theories of happiness, an agent is happy when she judges that her life fulfils her ideal life-plan. Fred Feldman has recently argued that such views cannot accommodate the happiness of spontaneous or pre-occupied agents who do not consider how well their lives are going. In this paper, I formulate a new Whole Life Satisfaction theory which can deal with this problem. My proposal is inspired by Michael Smith’s advice-model of desirability. According (...) to it, an agent is happy when a more informed and rational hypothetical version of her would judge that the agent’s actual life matches the best life-plan for her. This view turns out to be a flexible model which can avoid many problems of the previous theories of happiness. (shrink)
My main thesis in this article is that Descartes' ethics should be understood as involving a distinction between happiness and well-being. The distinction I have in mind is never clearly stated or articulated by Descartes himself, but I argue that we nevertheless have good reason to embrace it as an important component in a charitable reconstruction of his ethical thought. In section I, I present Descartes' account of happiness and of how he thinks happiness can (and cannot) (...) be acquired. Then, in section II, I introduce and develop the distinction between happiness and well-being. I do this via a discussion of a difficult passage in one of Descartes' letters to Elisabeth, where he may seem first to grant and then immediately to reject the view that people's happiness can vary in degree depending on the possession of goods or perfections that are outside their power to control. I believe my proposed distinction can help us make good sense of this passage. In the last two sections (III and IV), I then offer some further grounds or reasons for why the proposed distinction should be ascribed to Descartes. (shrink)
This book will be the first collection of classic and contemporary readings devoted to the subject of happiness. Part I will include classic readings from Plato to Sartre, thus providing a brief tour of the most important theories of ethics and emphasizing their approaches to happiness. Part II will be devoted to the work of contemporary theorists who have sought to grasp the concept of happiness from a variety of perspectives.
In Happiness for Humans , Daniel C. Russell takes a fresh look at happiness from a practical perspective: the perspective of someone trying to solve the wonderful problem of how to give himself a good life. From this perspective, "happiness" is the name of a solution to that problem for practical deliberation. Russell's approach to happiness falls within a tradition that reaches back to ancient Greek and Roman philosophers--a tradition now called "eudaimonism." Beginning with Aristotle's seminal (...) discussion of the role of happiness in practical reasoning, Russell asks what sort of good happiness would have to be in order to play the role in our practical economies that it actually does play. Looking at happiness from this perspective, Russell argues that happiness is a life of activity, with three main features: it is acting for the sake of ends we can live for, and living for them wisely; it is fulfilling for us, both as humans and as unique individuals; and it is inextricable from our connections with the particular persons, pursuits, and places that make us who we are. By returning to this ancient perspective on happiness, Russell finds new directions for contemporary thought about the good lives we want for ourselves. (shrink)
This study tests the Buddhist hypothesis that observance of Buddhist Five Precepts leads to subjective wealth, and happiness. Gotama Buddha defined happiness as the result of subjective wealth: having wealth, using wealth, not being in debt, and engaging in a harmless profession. Four hundred residents of Bangkok participated in the study by responding to scales assessing the extent of their observance of the Five Precepts, subjective wealth, and domain satisfactions and life satisfaction. Regression analyses were used to test (...) the hypothesis. The results confirm that subjective wealth mediates the relationship between observance of the Five Precepts and happiness. Happiness begins by not transgressing upon oneself and violating others, and may depend less on what one has than on what one has left after paying off the bills. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Descartes developed an early theory of happiness, which he rhetorically claimed to have stemmed from his choice of vocation in 1619. I provide a sketch of his theory in the Discours, noting, however, some problems with the historicity of the text. I then turn to his Olympica and associated writings that date from this period, where he literally asked, “What way in life shall I follow?” I take Descartes’ dreams as allegorical and provide (...) an interpretation of his curious claim that poets are better equipped to discover truth than philosophers, made at a time when he chose to become a philosopher and not a poet. My way out of this conundrum is to identify in this text a philosophical psychology that I argue is consistent with the Regulae and the Discours, is part of what he took to be his “foundation of the wonderful science,” and is the essence of his early theory of happiness. (shrink)
In this address, I defend happiness as a disposition conducive to, or at least compatible with, a view of the world that is both cognitively and politically valuable, that is, both conducive to truth and ethically appropriate.
The pursuit of happiness is a long-enshrined tradition that has recently become the cornerstone of the American Positive Psychology movement. However, “happiness” is an over-worked and ambiguous word, which, it is argued, should be restricted and only used as the label for a brief emotional state that typically lasts a few seconds or minutes. The corollary proposal for positive psychology is that optimism is a preferable stance over pessimism or realism. Examples are presented both from psychology and economics (...) that illustrate the dangers of optimism, and in which better outcomes can occur with a pessimistic stance. A more sophisticated approach is then presented in which, in relation to well-being and quality of life, neither optimism nor pessimism is seen as inherently better than the other, but, rather, in which psychological flexibility may contribute optimally to health and well-being. (shrink)
Philosophy and Happiness addresses the need to situate any meaningful discourse about happiness in a wider context of human interests, capacities and circumstances. How is happiness manifested and expressed? Can there be any happiness if no worthy life projects are pursued? How is happiness affected by relationships, illness, or cultural variants? Can it be reduced to preference satisfaction? Is it a temporary feeling or a persistent way of being? Is reflection conducive to happiness? Is (...) mortality necessary for it? These are the questions people ask themselves when they stop and think about how they feel, how their lives are going, and how they would be going if different choices had been made or different values had been prioritized. These are the questions that contributors to this volume begin to answer, adopting different methodologies, among which the analysis of widespread intuitions about imaginary and real-life scenarios, and reflection on the interpretation of the relevant empirical evidence emerging from psychology and economics. (shrink)
The challenge from the sophists with whom Plato is confronted is: Who can prove that the just man without power is happy whereas the unjust man with power is not? This challenge concerns the basic issue of politics: the relationship between justice and happiness. Will the unjust man gain the exceptional happiness of the strong by abusing his power and by injustice? The gist of Plato’s reply is to speak not of justice but of intrinsic justice, i.e., the (...) strength of virtue which, in his account, is the fundamental good of man. Nevertheless, many contend that intrinsic justice is actually injustice, for the division of power in the state is undemocratic while in the soul, the suppression of desire by the reason. Plato’s advocacy of hierarchical, elite political system has enraged democrats, while his idea of philosopher king has enraged the aristocrats as well. So, who will appreciate Plato’s effort? (shrink)
Despite the enormous growth in happiness research in recent decades, there remains a lack of consistency in the use of the terms happiness, satisfaction, contentment and well-being. In this article I argue for a sociologically grounded distinction between happiness and contentment that defines the former as positive affect and the latter as positive reflection. Contentment is therefore understood as a fulfilling relationship with the self and society and happiness involves pleasurable experiences. There is a history of (...) similar distinctions in philosophy and psychoanalysis, but much of the contemporary discourse fails to distinguish between individual and collective definitions of happiness. This article will argue that happiness and contentment ought not to be treated as competing approaches to the good life, but as complimentary forms of emotional experience. Further, I argue that the current interest in happiness can be linked to larger culture shifts involving neoliberalism and individualism. (shrink)
Aquinas may seem profligate in defining ‘happiness’ (beatitudo). He says, “by the name ‘happiness’ is understood the ultimate perfection of a rational or of an intellectual nature” (ST Ia q.62 a.1 co.). He also says, “‘happiness’ names the attainment of the ultimate end” (ST IaIIae q.2 pro.). He further says the following “definition of happiness” is “good and adequate”: “Happy is the one who has all that he desires” (ST IaIIae q.5 a.8 ad 3). So which (...) expresses what happiness really is? Which gives us the quid est of happiness? In this essay, I argue that his quid est definition of happiness is put in terms of “the attainment of the ultimate end.” I further argue that, once that definition is properly understood, it becomes clear that Aquinas thinks happiness just is intimately knowing and enjoying God. I close by focusing on one downstream interpretive effect that this interpretation could plausibly have; it may influence our understanding of the relationship between virtue and happiness in Aquinas. (shrink)
The article revisits the originality of Hobbes's concept of happiness on the basis of Hobbes's two accounts found respectively in Thomas White's De Mundo Examined and Leviathan. It is argued that Hobbes's claim that happiness consists in the unhindered advance from one acquired good to another ought to be understood against the background of Hobbes's theory of sensation and the imagination, on the one hand, and Hobbes's doctrine of conatus, on the other. It is further claimed that the (...) account of happiness in White's De Mundo differs from that in Leviathan. In the former work, happiness is defined not as the mere progression from one good to another but as the joy/mental pleasure derived from the awareness of one's unhindered advance. The traditional claim that Hobbes is an ethical subjectivist is examined in connection with Hobbes's view of the subjectivity of happiness and the rejection of the summum bonum. Lastly, Hobbes's distinction between worldly and everlasting happiness is discussed. (shrink)
Over the last decade, philosophers of education have begun taking a renewed interest in Rousseau’s educational thought. This is a welcome development as his ideas are rich with educational insights. His philosophy is not without its flaws, however. One significant flaw is his educational project for females, which is sexist in the highest degree. Rousseau argues that females should be taught to “please men…and make [men’s] lives agreeable and sweet.” The question becomes how could Rousseau make such strident claims, especially (...) in light of his far more insightful ideas concerning the education of males. This paper attempts to make sense of Rousseau’s ideas on the education of females. While I maintain that Rousseau’s project for Sophie ought to be rejected, I argue that we should try to understand how this otherwise insightful thinker could make such surprising claims. Is it a bizarre inconsistency in his philosophical reasoning or an expression of his unabashed misogyny, as so many have claimed? I argue that it is neither. Rather, it is a product of his conception of human happiness and his belief in the irreducible role human sexual relations has in achieving and prolonging that happiness. For Rousseau, sex, love and happiness are inextricably connected, and he believes that men and women will be happiest when they inhabit certain sex roles—not because sex roles are valuable in themselves, but because only through them can either men or women hope to be happy. (shrink)
The point of departure of this paper is the recently emphasised distinction between psychological theories of happiness, on the one hand, and normative theories of well-being, on the other. With this distinction in mind, I examine three possible kinds of relation that might exist between (psychological) happiness and (normative) well-being; to wit, happiness may be understood as playing a central part in (1) a formal theory of well-being, (2) a substantive theory of well-being or (3) as an (...) indicator for well-being. I note that, in the relevant literature, happiness is mostly discussed in terms of either (1) or (2). In this paper, I attempt to motivate a shift of focus away from such accounts of happiness and towards (3), i.e. its epistemic role. When examined in connection to (normative) well-being, (psychological states of) happiness and unhappiness should be understood as psychological states that inform individuals about the contribution of various activities, pursuits, or situations to their well-being or ill-being. (shrink)
Suppose you want to live a happy life. Who should you turn to for advice? We normally think that we know best about our own happiness. But recent work in psychology and neuroscience suggests that we are often mistaken about our own natures, and that sometimes scientists know us better than we know ourselves. Does this mean that to live a happy life we should ask scientists for advice rather than relying on our introspection? In what follows, we highlight (...) ways in which the science of happiness could help us live happy lives, but we also argue that, in other ways, our navel gazing will remain indispensable. (shrink)
Historically, philosophers have identified happiness with, among other things, pleasure, contentment, desire satisfaction, and, if we count the Greek eudaimonia as happiness, the life of virtue. When faced with competing theories of happiness, we need a way to decide which theory is more accurate. According to Larry Wayne Sumner's principle of descriptive adequacy, the best theory of happiness is the theory that best describes our ordinary, pretheoretical beliefs and intuitions. The chief aim of this article is (...) to show that the principle of descriptive adequacy is mistaken. To do this, it shows how the principle breaks down when applied to Aristotle's theory of eudaimonia, a theory Sumner claims to be descriptively inadequate as a theory of happiness. The article argues that we should reject descriptive adequacy as a metaphilosophical principle on the grounds that our intuitions and beliefs about happiness are too inchoate for any theory adequately to describe. (shrink)
Drawing upon Nel Noddings’ contention that, if children are to be happy in schools, their teachers should also be happy, this paper tries to explore a way in which the obviously intimate but seemingly conflicting connections between students’ and teachers’ happiness can be understood from the viewpoint of Stanley Cavell’s reading of J. S. Mill. Mill’s conceptions of desire and pleasure are examined as a means of liberating the above connection from existing prioritization: that is, teachers’ or students’ (...) class='Hi'>happiness comes first. The pursuit of happiness for both teachers and students is discussed, in the hopes of illuminating alternative images of teacher education. (shrink)
This paper focuses on a particular method which is used in contemporary empirical happiness studies, namely measuring people’s happiness by scoring their emotions (Kahneman is a prominent scholar). I examine the presupposition in this field that emotion scores can be added or subtracted, that throughout affective space runs a straight axis that plots hedonic tone or pleasure.
The central subject of Aristotle's ethics is happiness or living well. Most people in his day (as in ours), eager to enjoy life, impressed by worldly success, and fearful of serious loss, believed that happiness depends mainly on fortune in achieving prosperity and avoiding adversity. Aristotle, however, argues that virtuous conduct is the governing factor in living well and attaining happiness. While admitting that neither the blessings not the afflictions of fortune are unimportant, he maintains that the (...) virtuous find life more satisfying than other people do and, with only modest good fortune, they lead happy, enjoyable lives. Combining philological precision with philosophical analysis, the author reconstructs Aristotle's defense of these bold claims. By examining how Aristotle develops his position in response to the prevailing hopes and anxieties of his age, the author shows why Aristotle considers happiness important for ethics and why he thinks it necessary to revise popular and traditional views. Paying close attention throughout to the internalist dimension of Aristotle's approach - his emphasis on how the virtuous view their own lives and actions - the author advances new interpretations of Aristotle's accounts of several major virtues, including temperance, courage, liberality, and 'greatness of soul'. This work sets Aristotle in the broader cultural context of his time, tracing his attemps to accommodate and amend rival views. The author examines literary and historical sources as well as philosophical texts, showing the inherited values and traditional ideals that inform Aristotle's discussions and provide some of the basis for his conclusions. Presupposing no knowledge of Greek or specialized philosophical terminology, the book is designed to be accessible to all students of philosophy or classical antiquity. All quotations from ancient texts are translated. (shrink)
In this dissertation I argue that while hedonism seems to be the correct theory of happiness, happiness does not seem to be the essence of welfare; after all, it appears that a person may be brainwashed over a given duration, may be happy over that same duration, but not also be well off over that duration, all things considered; this suggests that well-being consists of capacity-fulfillment. Hedonism about happiness, maintains that you are happy to the extent that (...) you have pleasure, unhappy to the extent that you have pain. Besides hedonism about happiness, there are three popular theories of happiness: desire-satisfaction, life-satisfaction, and emotional state. I judge these theories both by whether they accord with our commonsense intuitions and whether they have any internal problems. All three conflict with some of our intuitions and have internal problems. HH, however, accords with our intuitions and is not susceptible to the internal problems that the other theories are susceptible to. The relationship between happiness and well-being is a complex one. Happiness does seem intrinsically good for the happy: whenever you experience an episode of happiness, you seem thereby better off. By appealing to the case of brainwashing, however, I show that happiness seems neither necessary nor sufficient for welfare. Before introducing my own theory of welfare, I discuss five alternatives: desire-satisfaction, life-satisfaction, self-fulfillment, perfectionism, and objective list. The first four fail to accord with intuition in the case of brainwashing and the last three have internal problems. My own theory of welfare, capacity-fulfillment about welfare, maintains that you are well off to the extent that you successfully exercise your basic capacities. We possess four basic capacities: affection, cognition, conation, and locomotion. While CFW does not accord with some of our intuitions, it accommodates the case of brainwashing and incorporates some of the strengths of the welfare theories I criticize while remaining immune to the internal problems they have. (shrink)
Review of În căutarea fericirii. Viaţa familială în spaţiul românesc în sec. XVIII-XX (Looking for happiness. Family life in the Romanian space of the 18th-20th centuries) Coordinators: Ioan Bolovan, Diana Covaci, Daniel Deteşan, Marius Eppel, Elena Crinela Holom (Cluj: Presa Universitară Clujeană, 2010).
Previous research on the interpersonal effects of emotions in negotiation suggested that bargainers obtain higher outcomes expressing anger, when it is not directed against the counterpart as a person and it is perceived as appropriate. Instead, other studies indicated that successful negotiators express positive emotions. To reconcile this inconsistency, we propose that the direction of the effects of emotions depends on their perceived target, that is, whether the negotiatorsâ emotions are directed toward their opponentâs proposals or toward their own âexit (...) optionâ. An ultimatum game scenario experiment showed that negotiators who express positive emotion rather than negative, in addition to benefits in terms of relationship fortification, received better offers when participants perceived the negotiatorsâ emotions directed toward their own âexit optionâ. These findings indicate that positive emotions may signal the availability of better âexit optionâ, suggesting that happiness expressions can be strategically used to maximize both material and relational outcomes. (shrink)
One vexed philosophical question that once enjoyed great esteem is this: in the Beatific Vision that the saints enjoy in heaven, does happiness (beatitudo) consist in the vision of God, in delight in God, or in a combination of the vision and the delight? The answer that one gives to this question apparently commits one to a view about what happiness is ultimately about. It has long been thought that Aquinas holds that happiness consists in the vision (...) of God alone. In this essay, I argue that, on this important issue, Aquinas actually maintains that happiness consists both in the vision of God and delight in God, but that—unlike some of his contemporaries—Aquinas unequivocally affirms that the vision is more important in happiness than the delight. After arguing for this interpretation, I consider the quite compelling account of perfect and imperfect happiness that seems to follow from it. (shrink)
I do four things in this essay: (1) briefly rehearse the biographies of Simone Weil and Etty Hillesum, (2) outline and compare some of the key themes in their lives and works, noting interesting (and also troubling) similarities between them, as well as salient differences, (3) use their examples as lenses through which to look at contemporary attitudes toward altruism vs. self-interest, freedom vs. necessity, eating vs. fasting, and acting vs. writing, and (4) highlight both their strengths and their weaknesses (...) as religious witnesses to the truth. An overarching issue throughout the essay is the relation between the soul and the body, but I am especially concerned with the relation between self-sacrifice and self-love—also known as agape and temporal happiness—when confronted by radical evil. When allowed to correct one another, Weil and Hillesum show us, I believe, how Christian agapism can refuse both hatred and false security, even in an era of terrorism and torture. (shrink)
The contrast between Kant’s moral philosophy and Feder’s is not less crucial than the controversy caused by the Göttingen review of the first Critique. One of main targets of Kant’s moral philosophy was Feder’s view, which can be regarded as Kant's main competitor in the contemporary debate. I thus argue that the background provided by the conflict with Feder helps see how Kant shifted the ethical debate in new directions. I present an assessment of the philosophical substance of that clash (...) of views with regard to three fundamental issues. First, I examine how the project of a pure moral philosophy opposes Feder’s empirical investigation into the will. Second, I focus on Kant’s anti-eudaemonism, showing that his contrast between happiness and self-contentment is first and foremost a rejection of the strongly moralized view of happiness that is central in Feder’s eudaemonism. Finally, I highlight that Kant’s understanding of the aims of moral theory can be helpfully characterised by contrast with Feder’s common-sense conception. (shrink)