Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another paper on happiness

Should Happiness-Maximization be the Goal of Government?: A public lecture for the NZ Society for Legal and Social Philosophy

Time: 6.00pm, Tuesday 29th March, 2011.

Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Bldg 803, Law School, Eden Crescent, Auckland.


Recent social surveys of happiness (subjective well-being) have given a new stimulus to utilitarian political theory by providing a statistically reliable measure of the ‘happiness’ of individuals that can then be correlated with other variables. One general finding is that greater happiness does not correlate strongly with increased wealth, beyond modest levels, and this has led to calls for governments to shift priorities away from economic growth and towards other social values. This paper notes how the conclusions of this research help to address some of the traditional objections to utilitarianism. But whether happiness research findings can be used to set happiness-maximization goals for public policy needs careful examination. The translation from research to policy is not always straightforward. Some empirical and ethical objections to this ‘new utilitarianism’ are raised. Additionally, questions regarding the proper role of government are considered.See More

The full paper will be available from me, or from the NZSLSP website.