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Kolloquium Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften - David Espinet


Always Happier? Approaching the Easterlin-Paradox From a Kantian Point of View

Dr. David Espinet
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Always Happier? Approaching the Easterlin-Paradox From a Kantian Point of View
Wann 24.10.2016
von 11:15 bis 12:45
Wo FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminarraum
Kontakttelefon +49 (0)761 203-97362
Teilnehmer universitätsöffentlich / open to university members
Termin übernehmen vCal

In my talk I will question the standard concept of happiness in Economic Theory. More precisely, I will analyze from the standpoint of Kantian Ethics the so-called “Easterlin-Paradox”, which points to the assumed contradictory fact that individual happiness is not fully proportional to the degree of material wealth. Whereas the standard solutions in Economic Theory (treadmill-hypothesis, relative-consumption-hypothesis or set-point-theory) as well as the communitarian solution (good social interaction) both rely on the all to narrow premise that happiness consists in the hedonic consumption of objective and relational goods, the Kantian concept of moral autonomy, in contrast, introduces a third type of good, that of moral self-acceptance. Such an individual form of self-relational good is, in a happiness-argument developed on Kantian bases, also constitutive (as necessary condition for self-approval) for the well-being of rational agents but, at the same time, not directly dependent on the increase of the hedonic consumption of objective or relational goods. If such a more inclusive understanding of happiness beyond the consumption-model is coherent, the happiness-paradox seems obsolete. Moreover, such a conceptual solution of the paradox seems compatible with the assumption of some economists and their claim, that individual happiness is correlative to the degree of modernization of the respective societies – if by “modernization” is meant, that participating within the democratic fabric of norms and institutions is experienced as an articulation of autonomy, that is in Kantian terms: moral agency.