Good question, nice answer, but why without happiness?

JC Ott

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In their book "How much is enough?" Robert and Edward Skidelsky observe that philosophers and societies have always been critical about greed and insatiability. The pursuit of money and possessions was always subordinated to higher ideals, which were associated with views on ‘the good life’. This subordination led to standards about appropriateness and enoughness. This morality is gone. Dominant economic thinking accepts greed and insatiability as guiding principles. The needs of people are supposed to be unlimited and economic growth is supposed to create more well-being automatically. The Skidelskys reject this theory. They believe this theory has led to a rat-race in rich countries with adverse effects. They present an interesting proposal: let us make a list of things that are necessary for the good life, and together also sufficient. They think of features like health, safety, harmony with nature and leisure. Their list is acceptable, but such lists are always somewhat arbitrary and can easily lead to paternalism. Such dangers are smaller if subjective happiness is added. It is, however, fascinating and reassuring that the specific proposals of the Skidelskys contribute to more individual freedom. A basic income in particular creates more freedom to stay out of the rat-race, or to participate less intensively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-740
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2013

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  • EUR ESE 34


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