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Why Economists Should Be Unhappy With The Economics Of Happiness

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  • Barrotta, Pierluigi

Abstract

The economics of happiness is an influential research programme, the aim of which is to change welfare economics radically. In this paper I set out to show that its foundations are unreliable. I shall maintain two basic theses: (a) the economics of happiness shows inconsistencies with the first person standpoint, contrary claims on the part of the economists of happiness notwithstanding, and (b) happiness is a dubious concept if it is understood as the goal of welfare policies. These two theses are closely related and lead to a third thesis: (c) happiness should be replaced by autonomy as the fundamental goal of welfare economics. To defend my claims I shall show that a hedonic approach to happiness leads to an awkward trilemma. Furthermore, I shall clarify the meaning of “happiness” and “autonomy”, along with their conceptual relationships.

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  • Barrotta, Pierluigi, 2008. "Why Economists Should Be Unhappy With The Economics Of Happiness," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(02), pages 145-165, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:ecnphi:v:24:y:2008:i:02:p:145-165_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey, 2011. "Subjective Well-Being, Politics and Political Economy," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 147(IV), pages 397-415, December.
    2. Koen Decancq & Marc Fleurbaey & Erik Schokkaert, 2015. "Happiness, Equivalent Incomes and Respect for Individual Preferences," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82, pages 1082-1106, December.
    3. Anna Carabelli & Mario Cedrini, 2011. "The Economic Problem of Happiness: Keynes on Happiness and Economics," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 335-359, October.
    4. Sebastian Silva-Leander, 2011. "On the Possibility of Measuring Freedom: A Kantian Perspective," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp049, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    5. Ricardo Crespo & Belén Mesurado, 2015. "Happiness Economics, Eudaimonia and Positive Psychology: From Happiness Economics to Flourishing Economics," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 931-946, August.
    6. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2011. "Happiness Is Absolute, Universal, Ultimate, Unidimensional, Cardinally Measurable and Interpersonally Comparable: A Basis for the Environmentally Responsible Happy Nation Index," Monash Economics Working Papers 16-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    7. Ulrich van Suntum, 2012. "Zur Kritik des BIP als Indikator für Wohlstand und Wirtschaftswachstum," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 208, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).

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