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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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Kahneman's “Objective Happiness”

Kahneman's “Objective Happiness”

(p.37) CHAPTER 3 Kahneman's “Objective Happiness”
What Is This Thing Called Happiness?

Fred Feldman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In ‘Objective Happiness', Daniel Kahneman apparently means to offer an account of the nature of happiness. A person's objective happiness level at a moment (or “instant utility”) is defined as the extent to which he wants the experience he is having at that moment to continue. Objective happiness during an interval is the temporal integral of instant utilities for all the moments during the interval. Kahneman suggests that objective happiness is worth recording because it indicates happiness; and the welfare levels of citizens track their happiness so understood. However, arguments are presented that show it is doubtful that “objective happiness” is tightly related to anything we would ordinarily call happiness. It is also doubtful that it is related in any interesting way to welfare. A person can be very happy and doing well at a time even though she does not want her experience to continue.

Keywords:   objective happiness, instant utility, Kahneman, preferentism, hedonism, the new mother, Brett the drag racer

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