The Nature and Value of Happiness


Christine Vitrano

First Edition • July 30, 2013 • 168 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813347271 • $24.00 USD$30.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813347288 • $9.99 USD$9.99 CAN

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The Nature and Value of Happiness provides a historic and contemporary overview of the philosophy of happiness, with critical evaluations to help students analyze the material and trace the evolution of a deeply nuanced concept. Addressing how the modern notion of happiness has changed from its ancient origins, Christine Vitrano attempts to clarify the precise value of happiness. This search leads Vitrano to examine topics such as the moral requirements of happiness and whether happiness can be considered the greatest good or simply one good among many. The philosophical theories are presented in a way that is accessible to anyone interested in learning about happiness, regardless of previous philosophical study. All technical terms and concepts are clearly explained, and illustrative examples tied into the text bring the material to life and help establish the relevance of the subject to readers. The ultimate goal is to reach a definition of the nature of happiness that best reflects the way we use the word today. This book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on happiness and is ideal for initiating provocative discussions in courses on happiness and ethics.


Christine Vitrano is assistant professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She is editor, with Steven M. Cahn, of Happiness: Classic and Contemporary Readings in Philosophy.

1. Introduction
2. Happiness as Pleasure
3. Happiness as Virtue
4. Happiness as Desire Satisfaction
5. Happiness as Something More Than Satisfaction
6. Happiness as Life Satisfaction
7. Happiness and Morality
8. Happiness and Well-Being
9. The Pursuit of Happiness

“Professor Vitrano has devoted many years to considering the numerous issues that surround happiness, and her understanding of the topic runs deep. . . . She offers a remarkably lucid presentation of the subject, eschewing arcane terminology, obscure references, and convoluted arguments. I find her reasoning persuasive and her conclusions compelling.” —Steven M. Cahn, The City University of New York (From the Foreword)

“Christine Vitrano invokes a wonderful style that I do not see very often in textbooks. Readers will engage with the author and be carried along as she enters into a very significant philosophical conversation about past and present interpretations of happiness.” —Jennifer Baker, College of Charleston

“Accessible and jargon free, The Nature and Value of Happiness provides a ready introduction to the key concepts, arguments, and principles espoused by Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the modern Utilitarians. The result empowers students to formulate their own views alongside critical arguments from the Big Thinkers on what must surely be a most important, if not final, aim of life, our own happiness.” —Cynthia Willett, Emory University

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