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Res Philosophica

Volume 90, Issue 3, July 2013

Happiness and Well-Being

Daniel M. Haybron
Pages 387-411
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2013.90.3.5

The Proper Pursuit of Happiness

What are the norms governing the pursuit of happiness? Presumably not just anything goes. But are the rules any more interesting than platitudes like “do what works, as long as you don’t hurt anyone”? Such questions have become especially salient in light of the development of positive psychology. Yet so far these matters have received relatively little attention, most of it from skeptics who doubt that the pursuit of happiness is an important, or even legitimate, enterprise. This paper examines the normative issues in this realm, arguing that the pursuit of happiness is indeed a legitimate and important endeavor, contra recent criticisms by Aristotelian and other skeptics. Yet it is also subject to strong, nonobvious normative constraints that extend well beyond those typically posited by commonsense and consequentialist thought.

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