Whole Life Satisfaction Concepts of Happiness



The most popular concepts of happiness among psychologists and philosophers nowadays are concepts of happiness according to which happiness is defined as “satisfaction with life as a whole”. Such concepts are “Whole Life Satisfaction” (WLS) concepts of happiness. I show that there are hundreds of non-equivalent ways in which a WLS conception of happiness can be developed. However, every precise conception either requires actual satisfaction with life as a whole or requires hypothetical satisfaction with life as a whole. I show that a person can be “happy” (in any familiar sense that might be relevant to eudaimonism) at a time even though he is not actually satisfied with his life as a whole at that time. I also show that a person can be “happy” at a time even though it is not correct to say that if he were to think about his life at that time, he would be satisfied with it as a whole. My thesis is that if you think that happiness is the Good, you should avoid defining happiness as whole life satisfaction.