The Good Life

A very accessible, engaging work for introductory students is Joel Kupperman’s Six Myths about the Good Life (Hackett Publishers, 2006). Simon Blackburn’s Being Good (Oxford University Press, 2003) has elegantly written short chapters on many topics discussed in Part I as well as in Part II. Those who want more in the way of short selections from classic texts in this area might consult The Good Life, edited by Charles Guignon (Hackett Publishers, 1999). On happiness more generally, see Nicholas White’s historical survey A Brief History of Happiness (Blackwell, 2006) and Steven Cahn’s anthology Happiness: Classic and Contemporary Readings in Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2007).

James Griffin’s Well-Being (Oxford University Press, 1985), Part I, provides a good discussion of the various difficulties surrounding the idea that well-being is essentially a matter of satisfying our desires. Griffin does, however, end up offering a qualified defense of the view. A lovely critical discussion of the desire view, with lots of examples meant to damage it and to provide indirect support for his own more Aristotelian view, can be found in Richard Kraut’s What Is Good and Why? (Harvard University Press, 2007), Chapter 2. An absolutely delightful book, chock-full of real-life stories and interesting examples, is Jean Kazez’s The Weight of Things (Blackwell, 2006). She defends the view that there are a number of intrinsic goods that are essential to living a good life. Finally, Susan Wolf provides a more thorough defense of her account of meaning in life in Meaning in Life and Why It Matters (Princeton, 2010).

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