The Korean Journal of Economic Studies
Adam Smith's Theory of Happiness: An Origin of Happiness Economics and Civil Economy
Kwangsu Kim (Sungkyunkwan University)Year 2018Vol. 66No. 1
This paper aims to address Adam Smith’s frontier view of happiness andeconomics, which has recently been raised since the so-called Easterlin’sParadox. At the outset, we take a historical look at several major theories ofhappiness in philosophy and psychology, from which two theories of happinesseconomics have arisen. Next we examine, in detail, Smith's approach tohappiness in light of his moral philosophy, and cast some light on his opinionthat true happiness consists in agreeing with sympathetic sentiments ofimpartial spectators. We then suggest that, while in his moral philosophy ahybrid (subjective and objective) approach to happiness is taken as a whole,his basic theory of happiness is largely in line with the tradition of Aristotelianobjective list theory. We conclude that Smith’s view of happiness in moralphilosophy is a precursor of modern civil humanism and happiness economics,in that the value of reciprocity among agents is regarded, above all, to beimportant in socio-economic transactions.