December 9-10, 2011
The United States Declaration of Independence famously declares the pursuit of happiness to be an inalienable right, but what is happiness? To what extent is happiness properly considered the crown of a flourishing human life, and of what import is happiness to our mutual well-being as creatures and communities?
Over the last twenty years, the question of “what is happiness?” has produced a new field, ‘happiness studies,’ with its own journal, The Journal of Happiness Studies. Happiness economists study what conceptions of well-being operate both macro-economically and micro-economically, and whether the various ingredients (e.g. relationships and children, freedom and control, financial and physical security, leisure, health, employment and achievement) can be measured in terms of the same units. Evolutionary psychologists study cross-culturally whether there are ‘human universals’ and whether they can give an evolutionary account of their development in the human species. Behind these sorts of studies stand deep philosophical and theological questions about what makes for a good human life, which we sought to bring into conversation with practitioners of happiness studies in this consultation.