Happiness Economics, Eudaimonia and Positive Psychology: From Happiness Economics to Flourishing Economics
A remarkable current development, happiness economics focuses on the relevance of people’s happiness in economic analyses. As this theory has been criticised for relying on an incomplete notion of happiness, this paper intends to support it with richer philosophical and psychological foundations. Specifically, it suggests that happiness economics should be based on Aristotle’s philosophical eudaimonia concept and on a modified version of ‘positive psychology’ that stresses human beings’ relational nature. First, this analysis describes happiness economics and its shortcomings. Next, it introduces Aristotle’s eudaimonia and takes a look at positive psychology with this lens, elaborating on the need to develop a new approach that goes beyond the economics of happiness: the economics of flourishing. Finally, the paper specifies some possible socio-economic objectives of a eudaimonic economics of happiness.
KeywordsHappiness economics Flourishing Positive psychology
JEL ClassificationA12 B59 I30
We acknowledge the comments of John B. Davis, Jorge Streb, and two anonymous referees. We are also grateful for the English editing of M. Donadini.
- Aristotle. (1954). Nicomachean ethics (Sir David Ross, Trans. and Introduced). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Aristotle. (1958). Politics (Ernest Barker, Edited and Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Aristotle. (1995). The complete works of Aristotle. The revised Oxford translation (J. Barnes (ed.) 6th printing with corrections). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Begley, N. (2010). Psychological adoption and adaption of eudaimonia. on Line in http://positivepsychology.org.uk/pp-theory/eudaimonia/140-the-psychological-adoption-and-adaptation-of-eudaimoni.html. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- Bentham, J. (1954). Jeremy Bentham’s economic writings (Critical edition based on his printed works and unprinted manuscripts by W. Stark). London: The Royal Economic Society and George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Crespo, R. F. (2013). Theoretical and practical reason in economics (pp. 59–62). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Crespo, R. F. (2014). A re-assessment of Aristotle's economic thought (pp. 64–71). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Davis, J. B. (forthcoming). ‘Economists’ odd stand on the positive-normative distinction: A behavioral economics view. In G. DeMartino & D. McCloskey (Eds.), Handbook on professional economic ethics: Views from the economics profession and beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In R. David & M. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramovitz (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and economics: How the economy and institutions affects human well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Hume, D. ( 1970). Writings on economics (edited with an Introduction by Eugene Rotwein). Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
- Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. C. (2009). What percentage of people in Europe are flourishing and what characterises them? Cambridge: Well-Being Institute, University of Cambridge. Prepared for the OECD/ISQOLS meeting ‘Measuring subjective well-being: an opportunity for NSOs?’ Florence—July 23/24, 2009, on line in http://www.isqols2009.istitutodeglinnocenti.it/Content_en/Huppert.pdf. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. C. (2013). Flourishing across Europe: Application of a new conceptual framework for defining well-being. Social Indicators Research, 110, 837–861. On line in http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs11205-011-9966-7.pdf. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Irwin, T. W. (2011). The development of ethics. A historical and critical study. Volume III: From Kant to Rawls. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Research, 43, 207–222.Google Scholar
- Knight, F. H. (1956). On the history and method of economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Laertius, D. (2007). The lives and opinions of eminent philosophers (C. D. Yonge, Trans.). www.classicpersuasion.org/pw/diogenes/dlaristotle.htm. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
- Layard, R. (2005). Happiness. Lessons from a new science. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Layard, R. (2007). Happiness and public policy: A challenge to the profession. In J. F. Bruno & A. Stutzer (Eds.), Economics and psychology. A promising new cross-disciplinary field (pp. 155–168). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Malthus, T. R. ( 1914). An essay on the principle of population. London: J. M. Dent.Google Scholar
- Nussbaum, M. (1986). The fragility of goodness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: American Psychological Association, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Putnam, H. (2004). The collapse of the fact/value dichotomy and other essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Rasmussen, D. C. (2011). Adam Smith on commerce and happiness: A response to Den Uyl and Rasmussen. Reason Papers, 33, 95–101.Google Scholar
- Richardson, F. C., Fowers, B. J., & Guignon, C. (1999). Re-envisioning psychology: Moral dimensions of theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Riedel, M. (ed.) (1972–1974) Rehabilitierung der praktischen Philosophie. Freiburg: Rombach.Google Scholar
- Robbins, L. (1935). An essay on the nature and significance of economic science. London: MacMillan.Google Scholar
- Sabetti, F. (2012). Public happiness as the wealth of nations: The rise of political economy in Naples in a comparative perspective. California Italian Studies, 3(1), 1–31.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Skidelsky, R., & Skidelsky, E. (2012). How much is enough? New York: Other Press.Google Scholar
- Smith, A. ( 1976). The theory of moral sentiments. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Taylor, C. C. W. (1995). Politics. In J. Barnes (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Wijngaards, A. (2102). Wordly theology. On connecting public theology and economics. Doctoral Thesis defended at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, on line in http://hdl.handle.net/2066/93624. Retrieved March 1, 2013.