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What Is This Thing Called Happiness?$
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Fred Feldman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571178

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571178.001.0001

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Some Puzzles about Happiness

Some Puzzles about Happiness

(p.1) CHAPTER 1 Some Puzzles about Happiness
What Is This Thing Called Happiness?

Fred Feldman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Popular reports indicate that some empirical researchers have discovered that the curve of lifetime happiness is U‐shaped; others have discovered that it is inverted U‐shaped; and others have found that it is a straight line. Perhaps the researchers were focusing on distinct phenomena. But then which of them was actually studying happiness? We need to determine the nature of happiness before we set out to plot its curve. The attempt to determine the nature of happiness is a philosophical project, not to be confused with the empirical project of trying to determine the typical causes of happiness. There is a further philosophical question: does individual human welfare track happiness? If we can determine what happiness is, and if we come to think that welfare tracks happiness, then we will want to determine whether philosophical reflection can help to shed light on the conceptual foundations of empirical research into happiness.

Keywords:   happiness, lifetime happiness, hedonic psychology, positive psychology, eudaimonism, welfare, well‐being

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