Philosophy and Happiness

Philosophy and Happiness was published by Palgrave Macmillan in May 2009.

A translation in Arabic is available: PHILOSOPHY AND HAPPINESS الفلسفة والسعادة, translated by Ahmed Al-Ansari and published by al-Markaz al-Qawmī lil-Tarjamah/ The National Center for Translation, Cairo (Egypt), 2013 (ISBN 9789777180672).

Philosophy and Happiness is a collection of philosophical papers by eminent and emerging scholars who answer pressing questions about happiness and the good life. Can we measure happiness? Would immortality enhance or compromise happiness? Does a happy life need to be meaningful? Can one be happy in adverse conditions (illness, disability, suffering)?

Reviews and critical notes


"[A] solid addition to happiness studies, especially for its outreach to interdisciplinary avenues."

The Meaning of Life entry, Oxford Bibliographies Online:

Extract: "A collection of fresh papers meant to provide a kaleidoscopic view of happiness. Many of the texts explicitly address meaning in life, and many others do this implicitly in contexts such as worthwhileness, authenticity, wisdom, and objective accounts of the human good."

Review by Nicholas Waghorn, Metapsychology Online, 4th July 2010.

Extract: "The inaugural offering is a helpful essay by Thaddeus Metz, well-chosen as an opener, which seeks to clarify some of the ideas in play. Metz first wants to show that happiness and meaningfulness are conceptually distinct (i.e. a happy but meaningless life is not a contradiction), and also that they are substantively different (i.e. they come apart in reality) [...] John Cottingham's characteristically humane and sensitive contribution seeks to delineate the ways in which past and future, and the awareness of these, bleed in to our present happiness, and inform our understanding of it.[...] Muireann Quigley and John Harris deal with a seemingly theological topic in a secular fashion -- that of immortality, and its relationship to happiness. Their concern is to defend the ostensibly secular scientific goal of extending lifespan through biological means.[...] Jordi Fernández' contribution relates happiness to incommensurable choices, where the goals cannot be compared -- in Sartre's famous example, the young Frenchman who has to decide between joining the Resistance and staying at home to look after his ailing mother."

Review by Alicia Hall, International Journal of Wellbeing, January 2011.

Extract: "Philosophy and Happiness, an impressive volume edited by Lisa Bortolotti, provides an excellent illustration of how the analysis of happiness requires clear thought about both the relevant questions and their potential solutions. This book, which grew out of the conference Happiness and the Meaning of Life, held at the University of Birmingham in 2007, offers a fresh perspective on a number of classic questions about happiness and also points the way toward new avenues of research."

Philosophy and Happiness book cover


Preface – L Bortolotti

Part one: Happiness and the Meaningful Life

1. Happiness and Meaningfulness - T Metz

2. Happiness, Temporality, Meaning – J Cottingham

3. Tragic Joyfulness – P Tabensky

4. Shape and the Meaningfulness of Life - L James

5. Immortal Happiness - M Quigley and J Harris

6. “I am well, apart from the fact that I have cancer” - H Carel

7. Suffering in Happy Lives – MW Martin

Part two: Happiness and the Mind

8. Reflections on Positive Psychology - E Duncan, I Grazzani-Gavazzi and U Kiran Subba

9. Face Value. Perception and Knowledge of Others’ Happiness - E Zamuner

10. The Politics of Happiness – E Angner

11. Happiness and Preference-Satisfaction – I Law

12. The Politics of the Self – J Lenman

13. Happiness and Life Choices - J Fernández

14. The Reflective Life and Happiness - V Tiberius

References and Bibliography