Classic qualms in the light of recent research

Ruut Veenhoven
In: Maggino, F. (Ed.) A Life Devoted to Quality of Life, Festschrift in Honor of Alex C. Michalos, Social Indicators Research Series vol. 60, chapter 10, pp 151-170, Springer, Dordrecht, 2015
ISBN: 978-3-319-20567-0, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-20568-7_ 10

Happiness has long been a subject for philosophers. A main question was whether greater happiness for a greater number is possible. Enlightened progress optimists envisioned that happiness can be furthered by the use of reason, but pessimists claimed that happiness is too elusive to grasp and that its pursuit will not bring us further, we will jump from the frying pan into the fire. Armchair theorizing has not settled this debate. Empirical answers became possible in the 1960s, when the social indicator movement took off. Alex Michalos was a pioneer in this strand of research, in which happiness is commonly defined as the subjective enjoyment of one's life as a whole. Thus defined, happiness can be well measured using self reports. To date this has given us a solid body of knowledge, which can now be used to debunk several classic qualms.

Keywords: Happiness, life-satisfaction, research synthesis, utilitarianism

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