Is there a happiness philosophy that deals with philosophy toward preserving or increasing happiness of other people, not just how to be happy yourself? Main branch of philosophy I'm familiar with that kind of seems related is justice philosophy (Plato, Utilitarianism, Kant, and Rawls). I guess preserving justice is in a sense preserving other people's happiness, but it also seems like there are other ways to view other people's happiness as choosing how to be happy just seems like the part of a happiness philosophy one has more control over. It doesn't affect other people's happiness, but it seems like affecting other people's happiness might not just be justice philosophy.

I'm not majoring in philosophy or something, but I'm just curious how that has been best approached. I found this article listing some I'm not as familiar with in this realm. This does seem to tie into justice philosophy to an extent, but I'm guessing that isn't the full story right? Thanks for anything you can say about this topic.

  • I don't know if I fully understand the question but some versions of communitarianism make the flourishing (=well-being = philosophical term for happiness) of the community a concern, but much will hinge on what you mean by "happiness."
    – virmaior
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 4:53
  • There are as many people in this world that enjoy not being happy as being happy.... Commented May 15, 2017 at 6:00

1 Answer 1


Its a difficult topic to do philosophy on because not everyone agrees on how you should treat other's happiness's. We tried the golden rule, and the platinum rule. Both have their quirks.

Arne Naess sought a solution which sidestepped the argument entirely. He defined what he called the "Ecological Self" as "that which one relates to." He gave the example of a scientist observing a fly falling into an acidic compound on a slide under a microscope and the scientist's empathy for the fly as it died. He argued that that fly was part of the scientist's Ecological Self.

By incorporating such a holistic concept, he was able to turn a lot of the "other people's happiness" debates on their head. For example, he resolves a lot of the conflict regarding altruism through this. Mother Teresa, he argues, was an exceedingly selfish person, but that the Self that she cared about was so wide and all encompassing that nobody could feel anything but warmth around her. Indeed, the ability to equate altruism with selfishness collapses a great many theories regarding other's happiness'.

  • Thanks! Totally hear you on philosophy being difficult due to disagreement. The course I'm taking now discussed abortion, so I feel like there are just strong points by a bunch of different people on anything really. I'm sure what I say might be a very specific philosophy or overly general, but broadly I'm just thinking the ideas probably map to some philosophy's and therefore probably aren't entirely original in this case.
    – Slayer0248
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 23:22

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