Hey you all,
here’s a link to a blog post of mine on the Experimental Philosophy blog that describes experiments that I think suggest that the folk concept of happiness is a normative one:
According to the hypothesis I am testing in my experiments, if the folk thinks that somebody is living a bad life—perhaps by being a morally bad person—then they are unlikely to, or will not, attribute happiness to this person even if they believe that she is in the kinds of mental states which we usually associate with happiness.
Most psychological research on happiness uses definitions of happiness that are wholly non-evaluative. This means that, when some psychologist judges that somebody is happy, the folk might not. That, I think, is an interesting result. Why? Because it means, I think, that when we give a philosophical account of happiness, then this will be a normative project at least in the following respect: we will have to give reasons for favoring either the normative concept of happiness used by the folk or the non-normative one used by psychologists and many philosophers. (That is, if, as I think, the kinds of experiments that I’ve been running show that the folk are using a partly normative concept of happiness. Again, see the link for descriptions of these experiments.)