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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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The Problem of Inauthentic Happiness

The Problem of Inauthentic Happiness

(p.188) CHAPTER 9 The Problem of Inauthentic Happiness
What Is This Thing Called Happiness?

Fred Feldman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Amartya Sen mentioned the case of a “demeaned and demoralized housewife” who has been brainwashed into thinking that a constricted life such as hers is appropriate for a woman. Thus, she is satisfied with that life. A simple form of Whole Life Satisfactionism implies that this housewife (‘Bertha’) is happy. A typical form of eudaimonism then implies that Bertha is enjoying positive welfare. This may seem implausible. Wayne Sumner responded by claiming that for a person's happiness to contribute to her welfare, that happiness must be “authentic”. Chapter 9 contains discussion of a series of cases intended to show that the restriction to authentic satisfaction yields problematic evaluations in certain types of cases. The relevance of these cases for Attitudinal Hedonic Eudaimonism is then assessed. It is claimed that theory yields defensible (though possibly surprising) accounts of the welfare of people such as Bertha. Perhaps it's better to be non‐autonomously happy than not to be happy at all.

Keywords:   Amartya Sen, Bertha, demeaned housewife, inauthentic happiness, eudaimonism, whole life satisfaction, Wayne Sumner, attitudinal hedonic eudaimonism

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