An Improved Whole Life Satisfaction Theory of Happiness

International Journal of Wellbeing 1 (1):149-166 (2011)
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According to the popular Whole Life Satisfaction theories of happiness, an agent is happy when she judges that her life fulfils her ideal life-plan. Fred Feldman has recently argued that such views cannot accommodate the happiness of spontaneous or pre-occupied agents who do not consider how well their lives are going. In this paper, I formulate a new Whole Life Satisfaction theory which can deal with this problem. My proposal is inspired by Michael Smith’s advice-model of desirability. According to it, an agent is happy when a more informed and rational hypothetical version of her would judge that the agent’s actual life matches the best life-plan for her. This view turns out to be a flexible model which can avoid many problems of the previous theories of happiness.

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Jussi Suikkanen
University of Birmingham


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