Why Economists Should Be Unhappy With The Economics Of Happiness
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.
Volume (Year): 24 (2008)
Issue (Month): 02 (July)
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