The Political Turn Towards Happiness

  • Jan-Willem van der RijtEmail author
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)


The view that governments should actively promote the happiness of their citizens is gaining considerable popularity. Politicians and policymakers have joined forces with scientists who believe that recent scientific advances can be used to increase societal happiness levels and thereby improve the quality of human life. Whether governments should regard the direct promotion of happiness as a legitimate goal for public policy is, however, not a scientific, but a normative question, and many prominent authors in the history of political thought have considered the idea that governments should seek to promote societal happiness only to conclude that it ought to be rejected. In the current political turn toward happiness such opposing views have received very little attention. This paper canvasses possible reasons to be wary of the current political commitment to happiness, arguing that many of these reasons point toward genuine concerns that have not been given the level of attention they warrant and, therefore, should be taken far more seriously than presently fashionable.


Public policy Happiness as governmental objective Science of subjective well-being Democracy Dignity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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