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Happiness: A Philosophical and Historical Perspective

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Part of the International Handbooks in Business Ethics book series (IHBE)


This essay discusses “happiness” from a philosophical and historical perspective. Also discussed are attempts to measure happiness and to identify goods used to pursue and promote happiness. The focus is on two related but distinguishable concepts called hedonic and eudaimonic. We find that eudaimonic is fundamental to a person’s moral and psychological well-being. We also find that hedonic happiness is unsustainable in the absence of eudaimonic well-being. If these findings are true, we are one step closer to understanding what constitutes human nature and the goods a person ought to pursue to attain happiness, and what should guide government policies to promote social well-being.


  • Aristotelian-Thomistic virtue
  • Hedonic happiness
  • Eudaimonic happiness
  • Subjective well-being
  • Internal goods
  • External goods
  • Substantive goods
  • Relational goods
  • Human flourishing
  • Human capabilities theory
  • Easterlin Paradox

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Correspondence to Surendra Arjoon .

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Arjoon, S., Turriago-Hoyos, Á., Braun, B.M. (2017). Happiness: A Philosophical and Historical Perspective. In: Sison, A., Beabout, G., Ferrero, I. (eds) Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management. International Handbooks in Business Ethics. Springer, Dordrecht.

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