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The Australian National University

Graham Oddie (Colorado Boulder): What is so good about being happy?

Date and time

Thu, 19/10/2017 - 15:30 - 17:30

Location

Coombs Seminar Room A

Happiness and well-being have both played a rich role in the history of value theory and ethics.  According to prominent versions of utilitarianism happiness and/or well-being is that which we have a moral obligation to promote or even maximize.  Despite the centrality of the two concepts there is no general consensus about what either happiness or well-being consists in, or exactly what the relationship between them is.  I take my cue from a broadly Meinongian theory of emotions as mental states that involve presentations of value.  This theory yields a rather natural account of the concept of happiness and its relation to well-being.  The account also yields an answer to the question that is the title of this talk.  However, the answer may come as a surprise to some.  It turns out that happiness is not an intrinsically good thing, and, even if consequentialism is correct, we have no obligation to pursue it or promote it, let alone to maximize it.

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