Advertisement

Maximization and the Good

  • Valerie TiberiusEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

The idea that we should maximize the good is a compelling one. After all, if you know what is good—that is, what is objectively worth pursuing—it makes sense to say that you should produce as much of it as you can. But the idea that we should maximize happiness is not obviously right; this idea depends on the assumption that happiness is the only thing that is objectively worth pursuing and this assumption is doubtful, particularly if happiness is understood as pleasure. After some consideration of the historical context of the idea that happiness should be maximized, I argue that the good for a person includes more than happiness. The good is more plausibly thought of in pluralistic terms. Finally, I argue that pluralist theories of a person’s good make maximizing problematic because they do not provide a single target and, further, because they include items (such as friendship) that are not appropriately maximized.

Keywords

Positive Affect Good Life Happy Life Subjective Theory Prudential Reason 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Annas J (1995) The morality of happiness. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bentham J, Burns JH, Hart HLA (1996) An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Brandt RB (1979) A theory of the good and the right. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Diener E, Scollon CN, Lucas RE (2003) The evolving concept of subjective well-being: the multifaceted nature of happiness. Adv Cell Aging Gerontol 15:187–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eid M, Larsen RJ (2008) The science of subjective well-being. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Griffin J (1986) Well-being: its meaning, measurement, and moral importance. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Haybron DM (2008) The pursuit of unhappiness: the elusive psychology of well-being. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Heathwood C (2006) Desire, satisfactionism and hedonism. Philos Stud 128(3):539–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jaworska A (2007) Caring and internality. Res 74(3):529–568Google Scholar
  10. Kahneman D, Deaton A (2010) High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107(38):16489–16493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kahneman D, Krueger AB, Schkade DA, Schwarz N, Stone AA (2004) A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: the day reconstruction method. Science 306(5702):1776–1780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Keller S (2004) Welfare and the achievement of goals. Philos Stud 121(1):27–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kesebir P, Diener E (2008) In pursuit of happiness: empirical answers to philosophical questions. Perspect Psychol Sci 3(2):117–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mill JS (1979) Utilitarianism. Hackett Publishing Company (First published), Indianapolis, p 1863Google Scholar
  15. Nozick R (1974) Anarchy, state, and utopia. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Raibley J (2010) Well-being and the priority of values. Soc Theor Pract 36(4):593–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Railton P (1986) Moral realism. Philosophical Rev 95(2):163–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Richardson HS (1997) Practical reasoning about final ends. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Rosati CS (1995a) Persons, perspectives, and full information accounts of the good. Ethics 105(2):296–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rosati CS (1995b) Naturalism, normativity, and the open question argument. Nous 29(1):46–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ryff CD, Singer B (1998) The contours of positive human health. Psychol Inquiry 9(1):1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schmuck PE, Sheldon KM (2001) Life goals and well-being: towards a positive psychology of human striving. Hogrefe and Huber Publishers, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  23. Seligman MEP (2002) Authentic happiness: using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfilment. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Sumner L (1996) Welfare, happiness, and ethic. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  25. Tiberius V (2008) The reflective life: living wisely with our limits. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tiberius V, Plakias A (2010) Well-being. In: Doris J (ed) The moral psychology handbook. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  27. Tiberius V “Well-Being for the Uninformed: Prudential Reasons and the Value Fulfillment Theory”. unpublished Google Scholar
  28. Velleman JD (1988) Brandt’s definition of ‘good’. Philos Rev 97(3):353–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. White MP, Dolan P (2009) Accounting for the richness of daily activities. Psychol Sci 20(8):1000–1008CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MinnesotaSouth MinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations