Chapter Eleven

1. Discuss the example of the Kingdom of Bhutan and how it uses GNH rather than GNP to evaluate public policy. Do you think this is a good model for how governments should set policy? Why or why not?

2. Look carefully at the different GNH domains and indicators. Are there any indicators that you think should not be included, and if so why? Are there any indicators that are missing that you think should be included? What are they and why? In answering this question, be sure to discuss whether the conception of happiness employed by the Bhutanese GNH index is hedonistic, satisfactionist, or eudaimonist, and whether you think this is the best way to understand happiness for the purpose of public-policy design.

3. Briefly define and discuss the three different approaches to measuring national happiness. Do any of them stand out to you as obviously better than the others? Which one and why?

4. What are the assumptions that motivate the claim that economic measures are the proper index for national happiness? What does it mean to say that economic measures are “proxy measures” for happiness? Do you agree with these claims? Why or why not?

5. What are some of the problems in using economic measures to index national happiness? Be specific. Do you think these problems successfully undermine the view that economic measures are the best index for measuring national happiness? Why or why not?

6. In what ways do Ed Diener and Martin Seligman believe their SWB Index is superior to classical economic measures of happiness? In answering this question, be sure to explain what subjective well-being is and how it differs as an account of national happiness. Do you agree with Diener and Seligman that the SWB Index is better at measuring happiness? Explain the reasons behind your answer.

7. Explain the ways in which the SWB Index and economic measures are both committed to the utilitarian social-welfare formula, and how this creates problems for each index.

8. How does the fact of adaptation reveal serious concerns with using an SWB index to set public policy? Be sure to offer evidence of adaptation, and how it relates to the sorts of public policy recommendations suggested by an SWB index.

9. What are the conceptual and normative objections that Martha Nussbaum raises against the SWB Index? Be specific.

10. Do you think that the components of subjective well-being are valuable enough to serve as criteria for setting national policy for all citizens? Explain.

11. Using the example of the opportunity that American citizens have to participate in the political process of voting, discuss how an objective list approach to measuring happiness differs from both SWB and economic indices. Do you think these objective list approaches serve as better indices to use to design social policy? Why or why not?

12. What are the potential problems for a capabilities (or objective list) approach to indexing national happiness? In particular, be sure to discuss both the logistical challenges as well as the worries that might attend making substantive choices about what is good for people even when they do not value those things themselves.

13. What is paternalism, and what are the two values of liberalism that allow it to circumvent paternalist worries? Explain. Do these values imply that national happiness programs are unjust? Why or why not?

14. Explain the ways in which using contemporary social science as a means for setting public policy might be a modern instance of Mill’s “tyranny of the majority.” In answering this question, be sure to explain the idea of the tyranny of the majority. Does overlooking our differences in the pursuit of a scientific model of well-being worry you regarding the project of increasing national happiness? Why or why not?

15. In what ways might the capabilities index fail to be sufficiently neutral? How does Nussbaum try to deflect these worries? Is she successful, in your opinion? Why or why not?

16. After reading about all three approaches to indexing national happiness for the purposes of policy design, which of these approaches do you find to be most plausible, and why? Do you think a government should even be in the business of promoting the happiness and well-being of its citizens in the first place, and why or why not?