1. Do you think that Stephen Hawking’s life is a happy one despite his having suffered the effects of ALS for most of his life? Explain your reasons for thinking so. What does your answer suggest about whether or not happiness is best understood as a feeling?
2. Explain the difference between thinking of happiness as the feeling of pleasure and thinking of it as the attitude of satisfaction. Use an example to illustrate the difference.
3. Describe local desire satisfactionism. What are some concerns with this account of happiness? Do you think this is a plausible account of happiness, and why or why not?
4. Describe whole life satisfactionism. What are some concerns with this account of happiness? Do you think this is a plausible account of happiness, and why or why not?
5. According to Władysław Tatarkiewicz, the present plays a very minor role in our judgments of life satisfaction. What reasons does he offer to support this claim? In what ways might this be understood as a challenge to Daniel Kahneman’s “objective happiness” discussed in Chapter Four? Do you agree with Tatarkiewicz concerning the degree to which present experience influences happiness? Why or why not?
6. What do you think of Tatarkiewicz’s claim that what matters more to our happiness is not what was, is, and will be in reality, but things we imagine never were and never will be? What does your answer reveal about your view of happiness?
7. Explain the different ways in which the past can have an impact on our current judgments of life satisfaction. Must a person have had a satisfactory past in order to be satisfied with his or her life? In answering, be sure to explain a “contrast effect,” as well as some of the empirical evidence provided by Amos Tversky and Dale Griffin for such a phenomenon.
8. Tatarkiewicz argues that the future holds the most weight in our happiness. Why does he think this? Do you agree? Why or why not? Can you think of examples from your own life where this is the case?
9. According to Robert Nozick, if you are not happy, then one thing you can do is to change the standards by which you evaluate your life as a whole. Explain how this would work and why we might want to do it. However, what worry does this raise with life satisfaction views, according to Nozick? Do you agree with him that this is a problem for this view of happiness? Why or why not?
10. Daniel Haybron argues further that there is no authoritative perspective from which to make judgments of life satisfaction, rendering our judgments as essentially arbitrary. Explain why Haybron thinks this, and use at least one example to illustrate his point. Do you agree with him that this constitutes a serious objection to life satisfactionism? Why or why not?
11. Psychologists Norbert Schwarz and Fritz Strack offer much empirical data to suggest that we are unreliable judges of our own life satisfaction. Describe some of the ways in which we err in evaluating our lives as wholes. Supposing their findings are accurate, do you believe that this undermines life satisfactionism as a theory of happiness? Why or why not?
12. Martha Nussbaum questions whether it is even possible to meaningfully answer the question of whether we are satisfied with our life as a whole. Explain three reasons for thinking we cannot formulate genuine life satisfaction judgments. Do you think that we can reliably evaluate our lives as wholes in the way required by the theory of life satisfactionism? Explain your reasons for thinking as you do.