The paper starts with a general discussion of the concepts of happiness and the good life. I argue that there is a conceptual core of happiness which has to do with one’s life as a whole. I discuss affective and attitude or life satisfaction views of happiness and indicate problems faced by those views. I introduce my own view, the life plan view, which sees happiness as the ongoing realizing of global desires of the person. I argue that on such a view one’s life could be happy without a high level of rationality or a high level of autonomy; such rationality and autonomy are not built into the concept of happiness. So while happiness is a final value, and good for the person, it is not the only final value. Rationality and autonomy are also final values and, where they exist, are good as ends for the person, part of the good life.
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I would like to thank Bengt Brülde and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper.