Kahneman on Objective Happiness

“Being pleased or distressed is an attribute of experience at a particular moment. I will label this attribute instant utility, borrowing the term ‘utility’ from Bentham (1789/1948). . .Satisfaction questions refer to more inclusive domains of life, such as family life or work. . .At the highest level of integration we find dimensions such as happiness, or well-being, which encompass all domains of life. . .The perspective of the present chapter is bottom-up. It takes the instant utility of the moment as the basic unit of analysis and seeks an objective and normatively justified definition of ‘true’ well-being that is based mainly on information about instant utility. . .Objective happiness is derived from a record of instant utility over [a] relevant period. . .Objective happiness, of course, is ultimately based on subjective data: the Good/Bad experiences of moments of life. It is labeled objective because the aggregation of instant utility is governed by a logical rule and could in principle be done by an observer with access to the temporal profile of instant utility (Kahneman, Wakker, and Sarin 1997)” (Kahneman, 1999, pp4- 5).

Leave a Reply