Emerging research on the subject of happiness—in psychology, economics, and public policy—reawakens and breathes new life into long-standing philosophical questions about happiness (e.g., What is it? Can it really be measured or pursued? What is its relationship to morality?). 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 nonspecialists. This book is the first to thoroughly investigate the fundamental theoretical issues at play in all the major contemporary debates about happiness, and it stands out especially in its critical analysis of empirical research. 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
4. Emotional State Theory of Happiness
5. Happiness as Satisfaction
Part II: What Makes Us Happy?
6. Happiness and Material Wealth
7. Happiness and Virtue
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. Economics of Happiness
14. Happiness and Public Policy
15. A Brief Conclusion
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 coeditor 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