Against Happiness (Paperback)

Against Happiness By Owen Flanagan, Joseph E. LeDoux, Bobby Bingle Cover Image

Against Happiness (Paperback)


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The "happiness agenda" is a worldwide movement that claims that happiness is the highest good, happiness can be measured, and public policy should promote happiness. Against Happiness is a thorough and powerful critique of this program, revealing the flaws of its concept of happiness and advocating a renewed focus on equality and justice.

Written by an interdisciplinary team of authors, this book provides both theoretical and empirical analysis of the limitations of the happiness agenda. The authors emphasize that this movement draws on a parochial, Western-centric philosophical basis and demographic sample. They show that happiness defined as subjective satisfaction or a surplus of positive emotions bears little resemblance to the richer and more nuanced concepts of the good life found in many world traditions. Cross-cultural philosophy, comparative theology, and social and cultural psychology all teach that cultures and subcultures vary in how much value they place on life satisfaction or feeling happy. Furthermore, the ideas promoted by the happiness agenda can compete with rights, justice, sustainability, and equality--and even conceal racial and gender injustice.

Against Happiness argues that a better way forward requires integration of cross-cultural philosophical, ethical, and political thought with critical social science. Ultimately, the authors contend, happiness should be a secondary goal--worth pursuing only if it is contingent on the demands of justice.
Owen Flanagan is James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Duke University and codirector of the Center for Comparative Philosophy. Joseph E. LeDoux is director of the Emotional Brain Institute and professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, as well as professor of psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone. Bobby Bingle is an independent scholar of comparative philosophy. Daniel M. Haybron is the Theodore R. Vitali, C.P., Professor of Philosophy at St. Louis University. Batja Mesquita is the director of the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology at the University of Leuven. Michele Moody-Adams is Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory at Columbia University. Songyao Ren is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Dallas. Anna Sun is associate professor of sociology and religious studies at Duke University. Yolonda Y. Wilson is associate professor of health care ethics at St. Louis University. Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Hazel Rose Markus is the Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Jeffrey D. Sachs is a University Professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Jeanne L. Tsai is professor of psychology at Stanford University.
Product Details ISBN: 9780231209496
ISBN-10: 0231209495
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: May 9th, 2023
Pages: 360
Language: English