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The “Technology of Happiness†and the Tradition of Economic Science

Luigino Bruni ()

Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2004, vol. 26, issue 1, 19-44

Abstract: It is a matter of fact that happiness is once again one of the foci of interest for economists, the “professors of the dismal science†(Carlyle 1850, p. 43). This is also the conviction of the editor of the “Controversy†on Economics and Happiness in The Economic Journal in 1997: “Economists from different backgrounds … all believe that happiness must play a more central role in economic science once again†(Dixon 1997, p. 1812). Dixon's thesis is twofold: (a) “Once again†: the reference is to the Neapolitan pubblica felicita (public happiness), developedby Genovesi andothers in the mid-1700s. In fact, Dixon sees a link between the new interest on happiness by contemporary economists andthe XVIII century debate on “public happiness†in the Latin countries, and in Italy in particular, as he explicitly says in a footnote; (b) “More central role†according to Dixon, is that happiness nowadays does not play a central role in economics.

Date: 2004
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