1. Do you think that Truman Burbank was happy before he found out that his life was a sham? Why or why not? What does your answer reveal about whether you think of happiness as a state of mind or something more? Explain.
2. Hedonism takes happiness to be a feeling. What are some reasons for or against thinking that this is the correct account of happiness?
3. Satisfactionism takes happiness to be an attitude. What are some reasons for or against thinking that this is the correct account of happiness?
4. What sorts of elements are missing from Truman’s life that might suggest that there is more to happiness than our first-hand experience? Do you think these elements can have an effect on Truman’s happiness, whether he realizes it or not? Why or why not?
5. Eudaimonism takes happiness to consist in fulfilling your positive potential or flourishing as a human person. What are some reasons for or against thinking that this is the correct account of happiness?
6. What are the ways in which the good-feeling emotions or satisfactions might be bad for us, and bad-feeling emotions or dissatisfactions might be good for us? Which do you think is more important: the experience of those pleasures or satisfactions, or how those pleasures or satisfactions are achieved? Explain your answer.
7. Present and discuss the two conflicting intuitions about happiness that the case of Truman Burbank raises. Which of these two intuitions do you think is more reflective of happiness? What reasons can you offer to support your thinking?
8. Is it possible that we could be mistaken about whether we are happy? Why or why not?
9. Do you think that happiness is just a matter of good fortune or luck? If not, what are the ways in which we can control our happiness? What are some reasons we might think that happiness is a matter of luck and that we have little control over it? If happiness were partially determined and beyond your control, would this make it any less valuable to you as a goal in life? Why or why not?
10. Explain the idea of a “treadmill effect” for our experience of pleasure. Can you think of any evidence from your own experience that would support the existence of a treadmill effect?
11. What is a happiness “set point,” and what evidence do psychologists David Lykken, Auke Tellegen, and Daniel Nettle offer for thinking that we all have a happiness “set point”?
12. What are some reasons for why we think that happiness is also a political concern, in addition to an individual pursuit?