South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (4):417-432 (2014)

Sam Wren-Lewis
University of Leeds
Happiness is currently the topic of a wide range of empirical research, and is increasingly becoming the focus of public policy. The interest in happiness largely stems from its connection with well-being. We care about well-being – how well our lives are going for us. If we are happy it seems that, to some extent, we must be doing well. This suggests that we may be able to successfully measure well-being through measuring happiness. The problem is that both happiness and well-being are elusive and their measurement is far from uncontroversial. What exactly does information about happiness tell us about well-being? Is there more to well-being than happiness? If so, to what extent is happiness connected to well-being? These are controversial questions, but answers to them must be given if we are to make progress in the measurement of well-being. I argue that we should view happiness as an indicator of changes in well-being. I call this the Indicator View. According to this view, someone can be doing badly yet be happy insofar as their well-being is improving (and vice versa). More precisely, the Indicator View is the view that happiness is a defeasible indicator of local changes in well-being. Thus, we can successfully measure an important aspect of well-being through measuring happiness. I argue in favour of this view on the basis of an understanding of well-being that is widely acceptable. The Indicator View, therefore, has the potential to unite divided opinion over what happiness research can tell us about well-being.
Keywords Wellbeing  Happiness  Subjective wellbeing  Science of wellbeing  Study of wellbeing
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DOI 10.1080/02580136.2014.967597
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
The Limits of Well-Being.Shelly Kagan - 1992 - Social Philosophy and Policy 9 (2):169-189.
Classifying Theories of Welfare.Christopher Woodard - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):787-803.

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Citations of this work BETA

Happiness.Dan Haybron - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Are Measures of Well-Being Philosophically Adequate?Willem van der Deijl - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (3):209-234.

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