New Scholarship on Happiness

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This interdisciplinary conference will bring together leading scholars from a variety of disciplines (including economics, philosophy, psychology, and law) to present current research about happiness. Presenters will include both external scholars and Duke faculty.  The specific focus of the conference will be the normative relevance of happiness and its role in shaping public policy. The conference is co-sponsored by the Kenan Institute of Ethics “Rethinking Regulation” program.

Dates: Wednesday, May 22 – Thursday, May 23
The conference will begin at noon on Wednesday May 22 and conclude at 3:45 on Thursday May 23.

Location: Duke Law School, Room 4047

View the schedule    View the Paper Presenters and Session Chairs


Matthew Adler
Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law, Professor of Public Policy, and Professor of Philosophy


Contact Dawn Cronce, conference administrator, with questions or to access the conference papers.



Download the schedule (PDF)

Wednesday, May 22

11:30 Box lunches available
12-1:45 Session One
Session Chair: Matt Adler
Dan Haybron, What do We Want from Measures of Subjective Well-Being for Policy
Jennifer Hawkins, A New Theory of Well-Being
2:15-4:00 Session Two
Session Chair: Peter Ubel
Dan Benjamin, Ori Heffetz, Miles Kimball, and Alex Rees-Jones, Can Marginal Rates of Substitution be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices
Matt Adler, Happiness Surveys and Public Policy: What’s the Use?
4:30-5:30 Session Three
Session Chair: Jonathan Wiener
George Kavetsos, TBD
7:30 Speaker's dinner, details to be announced

Thursday, May 23

8:30 Continental Breakfast
9-10:45 Session Four
Session Chair: Dan Bowling
William Darity, Timothy Diette, Arthur Goldsmith, and Darrick Hamilton, Traumatic Victimization during Childhood and Adult Happiness
Eugenio Proto and Andrew Oswald, Well-Being Across Nations is Linked to National Differences in the Serotonin Transporter Gene
11:15-1:00 Session Five
Session Chair: Jennifer Hawkins
Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova, When Happy Peasants become Frustrated Achievers: Agency, Capabilities, and Subjective Well-Being
David Blanchflower, TBD
1:00- 2:00 Lunch
2:00-3:45 Session Six
Session Chair: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Peter Railton, Subjective Well-Being as Information and Guidance
Erik Angner, Subjective Well-Being: When, and Why, It Matters


Paper Presenters and Session Chairs

  • Matt Adler (Duke)
  • Erik Angner (George Mason)
  • Dan Benjamin (Cornell)
  • David Blanchflower (Dartmouth)
  • Dan Bowling (Duke)
  • William Darity, Jr. (Duke)
  • Carol Graham (Brookings/Maryland)
  • Dan Haybon (Saint Louis)
  • Jennifer Hawkins (Duke)
  • Ori Heffetz (Cornell)
  • George Kavetsos (LSE)
  • Eugenio Proto (Warwick)
  • Peter Railton (Michigan)
  • Alex Rees-Jones (Cornell)
  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke)
  • Peter Ubel (Duke)
  • Jonathan Wiener (Duke)