The value of happiness

Abstract

There has been much debate in the philosophical literature about the nature of happiness. The central point of contention is whether happiness is best thought of as a psychological state or as a concept with a distinctively evaluative element. This essay argues that a purely psychological conception of happiness is incapable of accounting for our intuitive idea that happiness has great value and significance. A satisfactory account would acknowledge the importance of the psychological aspect of happiness but would insist that this is not enough. To explain the role that happiness plays in our everyday life we need to adopt an evaluative conception that intimately links happiness with the idea that our life is going well for us. Only if we maintain this conceptual connection between happiness and the conditions of our lives can we go any way to explaining the intuition that happiness is valuable

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