ABSTRACT

It seems a matter of self-evidence to most people (indeed I wonder if, in our hearts, any of us can escape such a view) that the point of life is to be happy. If, in an attempt to tap a relatively selfless opinion, you ask people what they would most want for the lives of their actual or hypothetical children, they will usually say ‘happiness’. They may also specify other conditions, like health, material success or a modest degree of fame, upon which happiness may be taken to depend. Not everybody chooses happiness, but most people do, and in the highly informal ‘experiments’ I have made in asking people this question there seem to be no unusual patterns to the responses they give in terms of age, sex, class, etc.