Who Is the Happy Warrior? Philosophy Poses Questions to Psychology

The Journal of Legal Studies (Impact Factor: 1.35). 06/2008; 37(S2):81-81. DOI: 10.1086/587438
Source: RePEc


Psychology has recently focused attention on subjective states of pleasure, satisfaction, and what is called "happiness." The suggestion has been made in some quarters that a study of these subjective states has important implications for public policy. Sometimes, as in the case of Martin Seligman's "positive psychology" movement, attempts are made to link the empirical findings and the related normative judgments directly to the descriptive and normative insights of ancient Greek ethics and modern virtue ethics. At other times, as with Daniel Kahneman's work, the connection to Aristotle and other ancient Greek thinkers is only indirect, and the connection to British Utilitarianism is paramount; nonetheless, judgments are made that could be illuminated by an examination of the rich philosophical tradition that runs from Aristotle through to John Stuart Mill's criticisms of Bentham. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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    • "For example, meaning-making activities, such as work and family, may not always improve one's happiness, although they may add meaning, and happiness activities may not always add meaning to one's life. The tension between happiness and meaning requires further analysis, as a focus on one without the other results in an incomplete conceptualization of wellbeing (Nussbaum, 2008). Finally, as Blanchflower and Oswald (2004) point out, there are " limitations to wellbeing statistics " and it is " unlikely that human happiness can be understood without, in part, listening to what human beings say " (p. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this study we examine the constructs " happiness " and " wellbeing " in a sample of Canadian women and men in mid-adulthood. Through a sequential mixed-methods approach, we utilize Sen and Nussbaum's conceptualizations of capabilities to inform the themes generated from semi-structured interviews. We find that participants understand happiness and wellbeing as two distinct constructs that are illuminated in the metaphors happiness as balance and the gears of wellbeing. Second, we corroborate these constructs through a principal component analysis of questionnaire data. We conclude that happiness and wellbeing are not static entities, but rather iterative processes that are constantly in flux and determined by the fulfillment of the often contradictory needs for (1) goal-achievement and an acceptance of reality, and (2) freedom along with meaning-making, which often involves creating restraints in one's life. These findings have important implications for those using happiness and wellbeing as policy outcome measures.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015
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    • "Relying exclusively on a¤ects may seem again a rather narrow basis for interpersonal comparisons of well-being (see Nussbaum (2008)). "

    Full-text · Technical Report · Jan 2014
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    • "So the pursuit of positive EMSs is a mistake: what really matters is fitting evaluations, not positive ones (cf. Nussbaum 2008). 9 Indeed, perhaps many of us should be less happy given all the problems in the world. "
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    ABSTRACT: What are the norms governing the pursuit of happiness? Presumably not just anything goes. But are the rules any more interesting than platitudes like "do what works, as long as you don't hurt anyone"? Such questions have become especially salient in light of the development of positive psychology. Yet so far these matters have received relatively little attention, most of it from skeptics who doubt that the pursuit of happiness is an important, or even legitimate, enterprise. This paper examines the normative issues in this realm, arguing that the pursuit of happiness is indeed a legitimate and important endeavor, contra recent criticisms by Aristotelian and other skeptics. Yet it is also subject to strong, nonobvious normative constraints that extend well beyond those typically posited by commonsense and consequentialist thought.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Res Philosophica
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