Good and Good For You: An Affect Theory of Happiness

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 80, No. 1, pg. 133-163, 2010.

 Laura Sizer

Happiness is something we all want and strive for. But what is it and why do we want it so badly? Philosophers have offered two sorts of answers to the first question, identifying happiness either with a psychological state or condition (a feeling, emotion or set of judgments), or with the conditions of a life—how well the life is going for the person living it, often measured by some objective standard of value. These two approaches, what I’ll henceforth refer to as subjective, or ‘good feelings,’ and objective, ‘good lives’ accounts of happiness, reflect tensions in our intuitions about the nature of happiness. Each approach captures different, but important, features of our intuitions, making it difficult to accept either a purely subjective or objective view. This has led some philosophers to suggest that these are not competing accounts of one thing, ‘happiness,’ but accounts of several different things to which everyday language has, unfortunately, given the same name (Thomas 1968; Haybron 2000). Others propose that each is a
necessary component of happiness, that happiness is a matter of possessing both the relevant subjective and objective properties (*** 1979; Nozick 1989, e.g.). I think this latter view is right, but that we need to better understand why or how these two elements are important and how they might be linked. In this paper I argue that an affect theory of happiness is able to reconcile both the subjective and objective strands of our intuitions about happiness.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted:Jan 01 2010, 12:00 AM by nick stock
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