Happiness Is the Wrong Metric

  • Amitai Etzioni
Part of the Library of Public Policy and Public Administration book series (LPPP, volume 11)


People are motivated not only by a quest for satisfaction but also by an ambition to live up to their sense of what is moral. This sense cannot be reduced to a form of satisfaction or pleasure maximization because, among other reasons, it often engenders pain and sacrifice. Further more, studies repeatedly show that income beyond a certain level does not make people happier, while “higher” sources, like spirituality, community involvement, intellectual activity, and family bonding, pay dividends with respect to individual happiness. Analysis and public policy are enriched when we realize that people take moral commitments seriously and will sometimes eschew their own pleasure to pursue them. This conception of well-being, which crucially incorporates moral affirmation, is a step forward in a deep-rooted dialogue in the social sciences and philosophy about human motivation, behavior, ethics, and how one goes about living “the good life.”


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Amitai Etzioni
    • 1
  1. 1.The George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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