PHILOSOPHICAL METHODS SEMINAR 115: HAPPINESS




Instructor
: Professor Craig Callender
Reader: Marta Halina
When: TuTh 11-12:20
Where: H&SS 7077
Office hours: Callender: Tu 2-3 and by appt.; Halina (Rm 8089): Wed 330-430


The primary purpose of this course is to teach philosophy majors how to understand, write and present philosophical arguments.  The course will be somewhat unorthodox: no exams, no long lectures, no rows of seats, and so on, but lots of presentations and writing.  The idea is that continued feedback on your writing and presentational skills will provide a kind of "crash course" in the talents one needs to be a good philosopher.  And since strong aptitude in comprehension/writing/presenting are needed outside philosophy too, it is hoped that this course will serve all the students taking it, no matter in what profession their future lie.

The secondary goal of this course is to study happiness and well-being.  What makes a person happy? Are particular ingredients needed, e.g., a poodle?  What is it for a person to live a good life?  Is there more to a good life than happiness? Is happiness simply a mental state?  Philosophers have studied these questions since the dawn of the field.  We'll examine the answers that have been given.  But we'll also try to bring this work to bear on recent research in psychology and behavioral economics. One of the freshest and most exciting areas of contemporary science is the study of happiness.   Surprising, and often shocking, discoveries have been made about what makes us happy. What do these discoveries mean for the philosophical questions, and how should we interpret these experimental results in light of what we've learned from the philosophy? Should these studies inform public policy, as many scientists hope, or do they measure the wrong thing?  The topic of happiness will force the student to come to grips with a diverse range of texts: ancient and modern philosophy, contemporary ethics, contemporary science.  Hence it is the perfect topic to help us realize the primary goal of the course.

Class format

•    Five essays, 3-4 pages single-spaced.  The first four essays are due in term, and the first two of these will be on a very specific assigned question.  The last, and fifth, essay is due during exam week.  It is to be a slightly longer and completely re-written improved version of your best earlier paper (as judged by you).

•    Come to class prepared for discussion.  This means carefully reading everything assigned for the day.  Because a discussion class is doomed if everyone hasn't done the reading prior to class, your reading will be monitored through a variety of means, e.g., quizzes.

•    You will be assigned two-three (depending on class size) 10-15 minute class presentations, in which one introduces the material and raises interesting discussion questions about it.  Please stand at the front of the class and outline your main points on a transparency for the overhead projector.  (I'll provide the transparency paper.)

•    After your first essay has been graded, an appointment will be made to meet with me face-to-face and go over the paper in my office.

•  I will also organize at least one in-class 'writing centers', to be explained.


Reading 

Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness is the only required book.  It sells for under $15.  Almost all the other readings are available free online (though some require that you be at UCSD or set up a UCSD proxy).  ...

Schedule

9/27    Introduction "The Hippies Were Right All Along About Happiness" (FT, 1/19/06)

10/2    Plato, Gorgias, 482c-509c (Callicles).

10/4    Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I

10/9    Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book X

10/11    Kraut, "Two Conceptions of Happiness"

10/16    Epicurus (Cicero, De Finibus, selection);       PAPER 1 DUE

10/18    Mill, Utilitarianism, ch,. II; Brink, "Mill's Deliberative Utilitarianism" read only 67-83.  Guest        
             participant: Professor Brink.

10/23    Nozick "The Experience Machine"; Vasiliou, "Reality, What Matters, and the Matrix"
             Nettle, "Wanting and Liking" (summarized by CC in class)

10/25    Crisp, "Hedonism Reconsidered"

10/30    Railton, "Facts and Values"
                                                         
11/1      Sobel, "Full Information Accounts of Well-Being" PAPER 2 Writing Centers

11/6      Nussbaum, "Women and Cultural Universals" Part 2         PAPER 2 DUE

11/8      Arneson "Human Flourishing versus Desire Satisfaction". Guest participant: Professor Arneson.
 
11/13    Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness                    

11/15    Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

11/20    Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness                                 PAPER 3 DUE                           

11/27    Tiberius, “Well-Being: Psychological Research for Philosophers”,

11/29    Beardman, "The Choice Between Current and Retrospective Evaluations of Pain"

12/4      Habron, D. "Life Satisfaction, Ethical Reflection, and the Science of Happiness"

12/6      Thaler and Sunstein, "Paternalistic Libertarianism"; Layard, "Towards a Happier Society"
              PAPER 4 DUE

12/13    PAPER 5 DUE

Grade

Participation    10%   
Presentation     10%   
Papers 1-4        60%   
Paper 5            20%       

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is evil.  It is taking credit for someone else's work.  This work can be the exact text someone wrote, but it can also be their ideas.  Literally copying pieces of someone else's text without attribution of course counts as plagiarism, but so does paraphrasing someone's ideas without attribution.  In general, if you're worried that you ought to add a reference, add the reference.  Cases of student plagiarism immediately will be referred to the Academic Integrity Office.

Writing Guides

We'll talk a lot about this in class, but there are good materials available online.  Here is a small sample: 

http://www.williams.edu/philosophy/faculty/jcruz/writingtutor/
http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/writing.htm

More Happiness

In a ten week course we can only touch on some of the main topics regarding the philosophy of happiness and well-being.  Here are some other papers and/or books that may be interesting to you.

Irwin, Plato’s Ethics, “Socrates the Epicurean,” “Aristippus Against Happiness,” Aristotle’s First Principles, “Permanent Happiness”
Nagel, “Aristotle on Eudaimonia”
Annas, The Morality of Happiness
Whiting, “Aristotle’s Function Argument: A Defense”
Whiting, “Human Nature and Intellectualism in Aristotle”
Irwin, “Kant’s Criticisms of Eudaemonism”
Griffin, Well-Being
Sumner, Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics
Matthew Silverstein, "In Defense of Happiness: A Response to the Experience Machine."
Parfit, Reasons and Persons, esp. appendix I.
Regan, “The Value of Rational Nature”
Hurka, Perfectionism
Darwall, Welfare as Rational Care
Velleman, “Well-being and Time”
Joseph Raz “The Role of Well-Being”
Tiberius, “Wisdom and Perspective”
Tiberius, “Value Commitments and the Balanced Life”, Utilitas,
Tiberius, "Cultural Differences and Philosophical Accounts of Well-Being"
Dan Haybron's webpage
Daniel Gilbert's webpage
Daniel Kahneman's webpage
Layard's webpage
Daniel Nettle, Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile
McMahon, Happiness: A History