Whole Life Satisfaction Concepts of Happiness

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Abstract:

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.

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