Just how can good circumstances contribute to happiness?
The Freedom Center and FC Talks series presents Sean Whitton (University of Arizona).
A /static conception of happiness/ is a view that happiness is constituted by merely the possession of certain circumstances of living, and not by the ways in which we live. I argue that static conceptions of happiness are not suitable to be /final ends/, in the sense that they do not permit us to integrate our living for the sake of various different values, and that they should thus be rejected. The conceptual errors involved in adopting a static conception of happiness are just as relevant to philosophical theorising about happiness as they are to thinking about one’s own happiness.
My argument relies on showing that adopting a static conception of happiness involves a rejection of the /subordination thesis/, which is the view that while living well is good /simpliciter/, circumstances of living can be only relatively good (specifically, good relative to the living of lives well in those circumstances). The subordination thesis, I suggest, is a useful characterisation of all and only /eudaimonist/ approaches to normative ethics. Thus, to the extent that my argument against static conceptions of happiness is an argument in favour of our adopting the subordination thesis, it is also an argument in favour of our being eudaimonists.