Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands,
Accepted for publication in Journal of Happiness Studies, 2010, 11: 605-629
Utilitarian philosophy holds that public policy should aim at greater happiness for a greater number of people. This moral tenet meets many objections, on pragmatic grounds it is denounced as unfeasible and on ideological grounds as undesirable. As a result the principle is marginal in policy making. In this paper I consider these classic philosophical qualms in the light of recent empirical research on life-
The data show first of all that the principle is feasible; happiness of a great number is possible in contemporary conditions and it is also possible to create more of it. The data also show that the promotion of happiness fits well with other ideals; happiness requires conditions that we value, such as freedom, and happiness fosters matters that we value, such as good health and civil behaviour. Though happiness can conflict with these values in theory, it appears to match them in practice.
Keywords: Happiness, life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing, utilitarianism, research synthesis, hedonism, cross-cultural
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