The Philosophy of Happiness : An Interdisciplinary Introduction book cover
1st Edition

The Philosophy of Happiness
An Interdisciplinary Introduction

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 17, 2020
ISBN 9781138240452
November 17, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

The new or emerging research programs on the subject of happiness—in psychology, economics, and public policy—reawakens and breathes new life into longstanding philosophical questions about happiness (e.g., What is it? Can it really be measured or pursued? What is its relationship to morality?). This book is the first to thoroughly investigate the fundamental theoretical issues at play in all of the major contemporary debates about happiness, and stands out especially in its critical analysis of empirical research. By analyzing this research from a philosophical perspective, Lorraine L. Besser is able to weave together the contributions of other disciplines, and the result is a robust, deeply contoured understanding of happiness made accessible for non-specialists. The book’s coverage of the material is comprehensive without being overwhelming. Its structure and pedagogical features will benefit students or anyone studying happiness for the first time: each chapter opens with an initial overview, and ends with a summary and list of suggested readings. 

Table of Contents


1. The History of Happiness

Part I: Theory

2. Happiness and Well-Being

3. Hedonism 

4. Emotional State Theory of Happiness

5. Happiness as Satisfaction

Part II: What Makes Us Happy?

6. Wealth and Happiness

7. Virtue and Happiness

8. Relationships and Happiness

9. The Mindset of Happiness

10. Authenticity and Deception

11. The Pursuit of Happiness

Part III: The Context of Happiness

12. The Science of Happiness

13. The Economics of Happiness

14. Happiness and Public Policy 


15. A Brief Conclusion

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Lorraine L. Besser is Professor of Philosophy at Middlebury College. She has published widely on moral psychology, well-being, and virtue ethics, and is the author of Eudaimonic Ethics: The Philosophy and Psychology of Living Well (2014) and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics (2015).


"This outstanding book is the introduction to happiness many of us have been waiting for: clear and accessible, engaging, and remarkably comprehensive. It covers not just the philosophy of happiness but also the science, economics and policy side of happiness, as well as practical issues about how to be happier, and includes non-Western approaches as well. It is the single best overview of research on happiness, and I strongly recommend it both for the classroom and for researchers wanting to learn more about the field, as well as anyone wishing to understand the state of the art in thinking about happiness."
Daniel M. Haybron, Saint Louis University

"An engaging and wide-ranging introduction to the study of happiness. The book’s perspective is philosophical, and would be an excellent choice for philosophy courses in ethics or happiness itself.  The philosophy here is enriched by well informed discussions of research in psychology, neuroscience, and economics, which makes it a very fine choice for courses in any field where there is an interest in a philosopher’s take on happiness. Indeed, anyone with an interest in happiness – whether or not they are teaching or taking a course – would profit from reading this book. Highly recommended!"
Valerie Tiberius, University of Minnesota