Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 26, 2021

James Dillon
Pages 235-245

Occluding the Obligational Realm
How Psychology Misconstrues Happiness

This paper examines ideas in psychology that eclipse a proper understanding of happiness. There are good reasons to believe in the existence of an obligational realm, a metaphysical territory over which a sovereign being rules. Once we recognize the obligational realm’s power, we can help others understand what it calls them to do in their small choices and major life decisions. Unfortunately, the force of the obligational realm is occluded by a social science model rooted in Epicureanism and Liberalism which casts happiness as a function of autonomy and utility. A duty-based conception of decision-making is offered as an alternative.