Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 931–946 | Cite as

Happiness Economics, Eudaimonia and Positive Psychology: From Happiness Economics to Flourishing Economics

  • Ricardo F. CrespoEmail author
  • Belén Mesurado
Research Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Happiness economics Flourishing Positive psychology 

JEL Classification

A12 B59 I30 

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

References

  1. Annas, J. (2011). Intelligent virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1954). Nicomachean ethics (Sir David Ross, Trans. and Introduced). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle. (1958). Politics (Ernest Barker, Edited and Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle. (1995). The complete works of Aristotle. The revised Oxford translation (J. Barnes (ed.) 6th printing with corrections). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barrotta, P. (2008). Why economists should be unhappy with the economics of happiness. Economics and Philosophy, 24, 145–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. Bruni, L., & Porta, P.-L. (2007). Introduction. In L. Bruni & P. L. Porta (Eds.), Handbook on the economics of happiness. Cheltenham: Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carabelli, A. M., & Cedrini, M. A. (2011). The economic problem of happiness: Keynes on happiness and economics. Forum of Social Economy, 40, 335–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crespo, R. F. (2006). The ontology of the Economic: An Aristotelian analysis. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 30(5), 767–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crespo, R. F. (2007). Practical comparability and ends in economics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 14(3), 371–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crespo, R. F. (2013). Theoretical and practical reason in economics (pp. 59–62). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  13. Crespo, R. F. (2014). A re-assessment of Aristotle's economic thought (pp. 64–71). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. 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
  15. Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi, D., Oishi, S., et al. (2010). New well-being measures: Short scales to assess flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 97, 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 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
  17. Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making social science matter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fowers, B. J. (2005). Virtue ethics and psychology: Pursuing excellence in ordinary practices. Washington, DC: APA Press Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fowers, B. J. (2008). From continence to virtue: Recovering goodness, character unity, and character types for positive psychology. Theory & Psychology, 18, 629–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fowers, B. J. (2012a). An Aristotelian framework for the human good. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 32(1), 10–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fowers, B. J. (2012b). Placing virtue and the human good in psychology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 32(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fowers, B. J., Mollica, C. O., & Procacci, E. N. (2010). Constitutive and instrumental goal orientations and their relations with eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(2), 39–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and economics: How the economy and institutions affects human well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Graff Low, K. (2011). Flourishing, Substance use, and engagement in students entering college: A preliminary study. Journal of American College Health, 59(6), 555–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hume, D. ([1752] 1970). Writings on economics (edited with an Introduction by Eugene Rotwein). Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Huta, V., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Pursuing pleasure or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 735–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 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
  30. Keyes, C. L. M. (1998). Social Well-Being. Social Psychology Quarterly, 61, 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 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
  32. Keyes, C. L. M. (2005). Mental Illness or mental health? Investigating axioms of the complete state model of health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 539–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keyes, C. L. M., & Annas, J. (2009). Feeling good and functioning well: Distinctive concepts in ancient philosophy and contemporary science. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(3), 197–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Knight, F. H. (1956). On the history and method of economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Kraut, R. (1979). Two conceptions of happiness. The Philosophical Review, 88(2), 167–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 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.
  37. Layard, R. (2005). Happiness. Lessons from a new science. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  38. 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
  39. MacKerron, G. (2012). Happiness economics from 35,000 feet. Journal of Economic Surveys, 26(4), 705–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Malthus, T. R. ([1798] 1914). An essay on the principle of population. London: J. M. Dent.Google Scholar
  41. McMahan, E. A., & Estes, D. (2011). Hedonic versus eudaimonic conceptions of well-being: Evidence of differential associations with self-reported well-being. Social Indicators Research, 103, 93–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nussbaum, M. (1986). The fragility of goodness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Nussbaum, M. (2005). Mill between Aristotle and Bentham. In L. Bruni & P. L. Porta (Eds.), Economics and happiness (pp. 170–183). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Parsons, T. (1934). Some reflections on “The nature and significance of economics”. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 48(3), 511–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 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
  46. Putnam, H. (2004). The collapse of the fact/value dichotomy and other essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Rasmussen, D. C. (2011). Adam Smith on commerce and happiness: A response to Den Uyl and Rasmussen. Reason Papers, 33, 95–101.Google Scholar
  48. Richardson, F. C. (2012). On psychology and virtue ethics. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 32(1), 24–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Richardson, F. C., Fowers, B. J., & Guignon, C. (1999). Re-envisioning psychology: Moral dimensions of theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  50. Riedel, M. (ed.) (1972–1974) Rehabilitierung der praktischen Philosophie. Freiburg: Rombach.Google Scholar
  51. Robbins, L. (1935). An essay on the nature and significance of economic science. London: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  52. 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
  53. Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  54. Sen, A. (1987). The standard of living. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Skidelsky, R., & Skidelsky, E. (2012). How much is enough? New York: Other Press.Google Scholar
  56. Slife, B. D., & Richardson, F. C. (2008). Problematic ontological underpinnings of positive psychology: A strong relational alternative. Theory and Psychology, 18(5), 699–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Slife, B. D., & Williams, R. (1995). What’s behind the research? Discovering hidden assumptions in the behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Smith, A. ([1759] 1976). The theory of moral sentiments. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  59. Taylor, C. (1985a). Human agency and language Philosophical papers 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Taylor, C. (1985b). Philosophy and the human sciences. Philosophical Papers 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Taylor, C. C. W. (1995). Politics. In J. Barnes (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Van der Rijt, J.-W. (2013). Public policy and the conditional value of happiness. Economics and Philosophy, 29, 381–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 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.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IAE (Universidad Austral) and Consejo Nacional de investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigaciones en Psicología Matemática y Experimental (CIIPME) and CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations