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论文提纲怎么写 应该社会政策的目标是创造最大的幸福

论文提纲怎么写  应该社会政策的目标是创造最大的幸福

 

“To increase the welfare of the population is generally regarded as an important political goal for modern governments besides e.g. democracy and distributive justice”. (Brulde 2010, p.11)

According to Lord Layard (2005) happiness is a more reliable indicator of welfare than economic (PPP, GDP) or social indicators (literacy, employment, corruption) thus happiness maximization should be the most important goal for the welfare politics. To pursue this goal government will need to introduce an index for happiness measurement and act upon its maximization through implementing various social policies. This essay will reach a conclusion that government should abandon an idea of happiness maximization and that it should be left for individuals discretion.

An idea that good government should promote maximization of happiness of its population is one of the founding concepts of modern political and economic theory and can be traced back to ancient Greece.

Aristotle said that happiness is the only thing that a man wants for its own sake. Anything else we want in this life is the means to live a happy life. Happiness was for Aristotle a self-evident goal. He described happiness (eudemonia) as an activity of the soul, and linked an achievement of happiness to ethical goodness (virtue) to the proper constitution of government.

‘Happiness also linked with liberty as modern western notions of universal human rights and liberties present a demand for universal pursuit of happiness’. (Duncan 2007, p 2.)

Desire for freedom from oppression, war and tyranny, liberty to pursue happiness, for Paine and Jefferson were central legitimate causes for American Revolution. The US Declaration of Independence of 1776 defined ‘the pursuit of happiness’ as one of the main undeniable rights of all citizens. Famous intellectual of the time Thomas Paine wrote: “Whatever the form of Constitution of Government may be, it ought to have no other object than the general happiness.”

(Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man [1790] (1996, p.164))

The rise and expansion of British Empire in 19th century flourished the ideas of such intellectuals as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

Jeremy Bentham was a British Philosopher and founder of utilitarianism. At the heart of the utilitarianism lays an idea that an action can be morally justified if only it produced the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. The Bentham’s argument contradicted the ideas of classical liberalists as in applying the utility principle the happiness of an individual would be sacrificed for the happiness of the many. Bentham believed that the government has the right to intervene if an individual, because of sickness, age, malnutrition, disability, poverty and bad-luck failed in society. Bentham believed that those social evils were the barriers to happiness, though should be removed.

While another important contributor to utilitarian philosophy was John Stuart Mill. He wrote two important books ‘On Liberty’ in 1859 and ‘Utilitarianism’ in 1861 and contributed to the theory of utilitarianism to make it more acceptable. He introduced the quality of the pleasure and divided it into lower pleasure (the pleasures of body) and the higher pleasure (the pleasures of mind). He suggested that the pleasures of the mind were higher than those of the body and famously wrote “Better to be humans dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied”.

It can be argued that these important ideas have influenced the political establishment of the period and became starting point for introduction of Poor Law Amendment in 1847 which arguably transformed the relationship between the state and its citizens and laid the ground for the introduction of the welfare state.

In the twentieth century, “the political use of happiness as a rationale of good government assisted in the establishment of social rights, reflecting a belief that all humans have a positive right to the opportunity of happiness”. (Duncan, 2007, p.6) The 1942 Beveridge Report in the UK, referred to ‘the happiness of a common man’ as the necessary objective (Beveridge 1942, p. 171).

Recently research on happiness has attracted a lot of attention of general public and modern intellectuals. Over the last 3 decades a lot of surveys on levels of happiness were conducted in most of the Western countries. According to the data collected average GNP index per head has risen while the data on happiness over the same period of time shows no correlation with these changes.

‘No clear linear relationship is found between income and subjective well-being – at least not beyond poverty-level incomes’. (Duncan, 2007:6)

These findings refer to – “Easterlin paradox” (Easterlin 1974; 1995; 2001) that is an idea that economic growth in wealthy countries is no longer contributing to happiness is created by Richard Easterlin. It has been found that as people acquire more affluence and income their expectations rise accordingly. Moreover as people tend to estimate their income or subjective well being in relative terms positive effect is diminished as the average income tends to rise at the same rate. (Duncan, 2007)

Hence such authors as Lord Richard Layard suggest that competitive conspicuous consumption does not increase people’s happiness. Layard advices that governments should take more responsibility to enhance people’s ‘well-being’ and implement social policies which will target the happiness as the main goal. Layard calls Western countries to look at the example of Kingdom of Bhutan where government chose Gross National Happiness instead of GDP as the main goal. (Layard, 2005)

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