Not More than a Feeling

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):41-50 (2022)
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Affect-based theorists and life satisfaction theorists disagree about the nature of happiness, but agree about this methodological principle: a philosophical theory of happiness should be in line with the folk concept HAPPINESS. In this article, we present two empirical studies indicating that it is affect-based theories that get the folk concept HAPPINESS right: competent speakers judge a person to be happy if and only if that person is described as feeling pleasure/good most of the time. Our studies also show that the judgement that a person is feeling pleasure/good most of the time reliably brings about the judgement that they are satisfied with their life, even if that person is described as not satisfied. We suggest that this direct causal relation between the concepts POSITIVE AFFECT and LIFE SATISFACTION might explain why many philosophers have been attracted to life satisfaction theories.

Author Profiles

Kevin Reuter
University of Z├╝rich
Michael Messerli
University of Berne
Luca Barlassina
University of Sheffield


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