Importantly, to ascribe happiness in the well-being sense is to make a If you and I and have different values, then we may well differ about which lives we consider happy.
I might think Genghis Khan had a happy life, because I think what matters for well-being is getting what you want; while you deny this because you think a life of evildoing, however “successful,” is sad and impoverished.
In this case, some sort of psychological inquiry will be needed, either philosophical or scientific.
(Laypersons often have neither sort of question in mind, but are really asking about the Accordingly, there are essentially two bodies of philosophical literature about “happiness” and two sets of debates about its nature, though writers often fail to distinguish them.
Yet we can't answer that question until we have some notion of what we mean by the word.
Philosophers who write about “happiness” typically take their subject matter to be either of two things, each corresponding to a different sense of the term: In the first case our concern is simply a psychological matter.Both hedonism and desire theories are in some sense subjectivist, since they ground well-being in the individual's subjective states.Objective list theorists, by contrast, think some things benefit us independently of our attitudes or feelings: there are objective prudential goods.Yet the significance of happiness for a good life has been hotly disputed in recent decades.Further questions of contemporary interest concern the relation between the philosophy and science of happiness, as well as the role of happiness in social and political decision-making. Is it pleasure, a life of prosperity, something else?Ill-being, or doing badly, may call for sympathy or pity, whereas we envy or rejoice in the good fortune of others, and feel gratitude for our own. Not coincidentally, the word ‘happiness’ derives from the term for good fortune, or “good hap,” and indeed the terms used to translate it in other languages have similar roots.In this sense of the term—call it the “well-being sense”—happiness refers to a life of well-being or flourishing: a life that goes well for you.In the second case, our subject matter is a kind of .(For further discussion, see the entry on well-being.On this sort of view, happy people are to be pitied, not envied.The present article will center on happiness in the psychological sense.