Shorty topics #8

Even more “shorty” topics. This is set #8. Do one of your choice, due by email Sunday night, October 28th. No new readings this week!

  1. Julia Annas uses the example of someone who has just won the Nobel Prize and has also just lost his family in a car crash to cast doubt on empirical studies of happiness. How might Daniel Kahneman respond to this example? In particular, what might he say about GB values and the additive function?
  2. How would a social psychologist who was trying to determine whether people were happy in the global, eudaimon sense go about trying to measure it? Is eudaimonia something that can be empirically measured, do you think? Why or why not?
  3. Pick one of our authors who would insist that happiness is not additive over time; say why they would reject that idea, and whether their rejection seems right.
  4. Pain seems to be the kind of subjective experience that is capable of being captured by a ranked metric, as in “On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is no pain and 10 is excruciating, how much pain are you experiencing now?” By contrast, something like intelligence seems resistant to being categorized in that way. Is happiness more like pain or more like intelligence? Defend your answer.
  5. Several of the authors we’ve read refer to the interest policy makers have in happiness or well-being. Is what they should care about captured by something like Kahneman’s “Objective Happiness”? Why, or if not, why not?
  6. A virtue theorist like Annas seems to think that a life truly lived in accordance with the virtues would thereby be a life of real happiness. Does this seem right? Why or why not?
  7. Using any two of the semester’s readings so far, say how any one of them provides a good critique of the other in a way we haven’t haven’t given significant attention to yet.