Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Giving a precise definition of happiness is difficult because of the different substantive conceptions of happiness that people hold; still, it is universally agreed that happiness is a characteristic of good life. Happiness often refers to a pleasant state of mind, but good fortune and moral virtue may also be considered elements of happiness. Although all seem to agree that happiness is what all human beings desire, it is open to debate whether happiness has intrinsic moral value. The role of happiness within a liberal society is a further domain that deserves our attention; apart from the obvious question regarding the attitude that a liberal society should adopt toward its citizens' different conceptions of happiness, there is also a challenging question regarding the possibility of the society's overall happiness and, if such a notion of happiness exists, its relation to the happiness of individual citizens. This entry first contrasts subjective ...