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Happiness, Virtue, and Tyranny
Philosophy Now (2008)
  • Matthew Pianalto, Eastern Kentucky University

Several accessible books detailing the history and the psychology of happiness have landed on bookshelves in the past few years. With limited exceptions, contemporary philosophers have only a small voice in this renewed and well-received discussion of happiness. ‘Positive psychologists’ such as Jonathan Haidt are friendly to ancient Greek philosophical conceptions of happiness, but critical of the later abandonment of happiness by philosophers in the modern period. Other happiness researchers, including Daniel Gilbert and Daniel Nettle, warn that the philosophical tendency to moralize happiness beginning with the Greeks may lead to undue confusion, ambiguity and intellectual bigotry. So how do we mediate between the psychological and the philosophical aspects of happiness? How can we engage in a discussion of what happiness ‘really’ is, and what kind of happiness should be pursued, without dragging in considerations that go beyond empirical facts? And how can we do this without becoming the dreaded happiness-bigots?

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Matthew Pianalto. "Happiness, Virtue, and Tyranny" Philosophy Now Vol. 68 (2008)
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