Race & Well-Being Lecture Series: Jason Purnell, "For the Sake of All"

The Happiness & Well-Being Project is pleased to announce the first lecture in the Race & Well-Being Lecture Series at Saint Louis University:

Jason Q. Purnell, PhD, MPH

(Washington University in St. Louis) 

"For the Sake of All: Translating Evidence into Health and Well-Being"

Jason Purnell is the director of For the Sake of All, and a professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Purnell’s research focuses on how socioeconomic and sociocultural factors influence health behaviors and health outcomes and on mobilizing community action to address the social determinants of health. The For the Sake of All project focuses on improving the health of all people by eliminating racial inequities in the St. Louis region. Professor Purnell was named the St. Louis American 2016 Person of the Year.

Il Monastero, on the campus of Saint Louis University
3050 Olive St.
St. Louis, MO 63103

Date & Time:
April 19, 2017, at 7:00 PM. 

This event is free and open to the public.

Well-Being Lecture Series: Guy Fletcher, February 21, 2017

The Happiness & Well-Being Project is pleased to announce the third lecture in the Well-Being Lecture Series at Saint Louis University:

Guy Fletcher

(University of Edinburgh) 

"Is Well-Being Normative?"

Philosophers have long thought about which things make lives go well, and why, and the extent to which morality and self-interest can be reconciled. By contrast, we have spent little time self-consciously examining well-being discourse (thought and talk about e.g. what is good or bad for someone, or what they prudentially ought to do). This is quite surprising given that this discourse is, at least prima facie, a normative form of discourse and this kind of discourse cries out for investigation of how exactly it functions and whether it has problematic presuppositions. In this paper I take a first step towards doing this by exploring and assessing various claims that might be expressed by the slogan well-being is normative.

Saint Louis University, Xavier Hall 332

Date & Time:
February 21, 2017, at 3:00 PM. 

A reception will follow in the first-floor common area of Adorjan Hall

St. Louis Area Well-Being Workshop, February 24, 2017

St. Louis Area Well-Being Workshop

February 24, 2017

Saint Louis University

Boileau Hall (map)

Free parking in lot next to building

The second St. Louis Area Well-Being Workshop (SLAWW), to be held at Saint Louis University on Friday, February 24 from 12:30 to 5:00 pm, followed by a reception. 

Attendance is free. Please RSVP to wellbeing@slu.edu if you plan to attend


12:30-1:00 Lunch

1:00-1:10 Introduction

1:10-1:40 Stuart Slavin (SLU medical school) "Can Medical Students be Happy?"

1:40-2:10 Lauren Olin (UMSL philosophy) “Humor and the Collapse of Compassion”

2:10-2:30 break

2:30-3:00 Zvjezdana Prizmic (WU psychology) "CRO-WELL - Croatian Longitudinal Study on Well-Being: Well-being, positive and negative life events"

3:00-3:30 Gualtiero Piccinini (UMSL philosophy) “Towards a Unified Account of Wellbeing"

3:30-3:50 break

3:50-4:20 Natalia Washington (WU philosophy) "Square Pegs, Round Holes: The problem of 'naturalized norms' in accounts of well-being"

4:20-4:50 Robert Cloninger (WU psychiatry) "Personality and Well-Being"

4:50-6:00 Reception

This is the second of at least three informal workshops aimed at fostering dialogue between well-being researchers in all disciplines from around the St. Louis area. It is part of the three-year project, Happiness and Well-Being: Integrating Research Across the Disciplines, funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and Saint Louis University (http://www.happinessandwellbeing.org/).

CFP: Cross-Cultural Studies in Well-Being


Final Submission Deadline: September 1, 2017

500 word proposals will be received until October 15, 2016

Special Issue Title: Cross-cultural Studies in Well-Being a special journal issue in Science, Religion & Culture, an international peer reviewed open access journal.

Guest edited by: Prof. Owen Flanagan and Dr. Wenqing Zhao, The Center for Comparative Philosophy, Duke University, Durham, NC USA 27708

The study of well-being is a lively topic in science as well as in philosophy and religious studies. Major questions include:

  • What is well-being?
  • What makes for a good human life?
  • Is it the total amount of hedonic pleasure?
  • A sense of subjective fulfillment?
  • Something objective?
  • What does well-being have to do with happiness?
  • To what extent is well-being a matter of having meaning and purpose?
  • Is religious faith predictive of well-being?
  • Are true beliefs predictive of well-being?
  • Does well-being have certain universal features, conditions?
  • If so, what are these universal features?
  • Are some of the goods that make for well-being internal to different cultural-philosophical-and religious traditions?

This special issue seeks articles of 4000-6000 words that explore questions of well-being. We focus on the last question on the list above: Are some of the goods that make for well-being internal to different cultural-philosophical and religious traditions? In particular, we are interested in papers that explore conceptions of well-being that are not WEIRD (Western-Educated-Industrialized-Rich-Democratic), including but not limited to Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian and Muslim traditions, that try to do either of two things:

1.     Reveal how a specific philosophical or religious tradition conceives well-being generally or a specific aspect of well-being that puts pressure of the scientific study of well-being, at least insofar as the science of well-being tries to identify trans-cultural features of well-being.

2.     Reveals insights or resources in some specific or religious tradition for thinking about well-being that ought to be noticed and discussed in the scientific or philosophical literature on well-being, but that receives insufficient attention.

We will generally favor articles that critically focus on one of the following things that is claimed by some tradition to be good for, even necessary for, well-being: a single cultural practice, a moral or epistemic virtue, a special economy of emotion, or a distinctive notion of self or agency. Examples might include practices that involve communal religious rituals, or personal virtues such as ahimsa (non-violence) in certain Indic traditions, or generational gratitude in Confucianism, or beliefs about how community makes for identity in the Southern African concept of Ubuntu; or in the theological virtue of religious hope in Islam. The overall aim is to advance the current scientific and philosophical study of well-being by adding fine-grained analysis of particular goods from particular traditions.

Book reviews and research notes will also be considered and encouraged. All submissions must follow Science, Religion & Culture-Author Guidelines or they will be declined without review.

There are two stages for submission: Please attach a cover page with author(s) and institutional information as a separate file with the submission of your proposal.  

1. Send a 500 word proposal by October 15, 2016 to Dr. Wenqing Zhao (wenqing.zhao@duke.edu).  Proposals will be refereed and then invitations issued.

2. Invited contributors should send their final manuscript by Sept 1, 2017 to Dr. Wenqing Zhao (wenqing.zhao@duke.edu).

Happiness & Well-Being Grant Awards Announced

Happiness & Well-Being: Integrating Research Across the Disciplines is pleased to announce the winners of our RFP competition. These teams will receive grants of up to $295,000, and totaling $3.3 million, for empirical and non-empirical research spanning a wide range of topics and approaches, including cross-cultural studies, measures and methods, virtue and well-being, inequality and well-being, lay conceptions of well-being, the promotion of well-being, and more. Our primary goal in funding these projects is to bring the sciences and humanities--particularly philosophy, theology and religious studies--together in the study of well-being. Notably, all empirical projects include at least one member with expertise in philosophy, theology and religious studies. We are excited to be partnering with the following investigators to advance the field of well-being research!

The empirical grant recipients are:

 Authentic Happiness and the Moral True Self. Yarrow Dunham (PI) (Psychology, Yale University), Joshua Knobe (Philosophy & Psychology, Yale University), George Newman (Cognitive Science & School of Management, Yale University), Shaun Nichols (Philosophy, University of Arizona), Nina Strohminger (Cognitive Science & School of Management, Yale University), and Fan Yang (Psychology, Yale University).

Compassion at the Heart of Well-Being: an Inter-Disciplinary Study of Well-Being in a Healthcare Setting. Felicia Huppert (PI) (Psychology, Australian Catholic University), Paul Atkins (Psychology, Australian Catholic University), Joseph Ciarrochi (Psychology, Australian Catholic University), Greg Fairbrother (Psychology, Australian Catholic University), Anya Johnson (Organizational Behavior, University of Sydney), Simon Keller (Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington), Helena Nguyen (Psychology, University of Sydney), Sean O'Connor (Psychology, University of Sydney), Baljinder Sahdra (Psychology, Australian Catholic University), Geoffrey Samuel (Social Anthropology & Religious Studies, University of Sydney), Nickolas Yu (Nursing, University of Sydney).

Cross-Cultural Insights into Wellbeing among Vulnerable Populations in Eastern Africa. Peter Little (PI) (Anthropology, Emory University), Workneh Negatu (Agricultural Economics, Addis Ababa University), Mark Risjord (Philosophy, Emory University).

Developing and Testing a Theoretical Model of the Pursuit of Well-Being. Maike Luhmann (PI) (Psychology, University of Cologne), Wilfried Hinsch (Philosophy, University of Cologne), Tanja Munk (Philosophy, University of Cologne).

Flourishing Mental Health in Caregivers.  Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell (PI) (Global Health, Duke University), Warren Kinghorn (Psychiatry and Divinity, Duke University), Corey Keyes (Sociology, Emory University), Kathryn Whetten (Public Policy and Global Health, Duke University), David Eagle (Health Policy, Duke University), Jen’nan Read (Sociology and Global Health), Ira Madan (Sahara Centre for Residential Care and Rehabilitation, India), Augustine Wasonga (ACE Africa – Kenya), Misganaw Eticha (Stand for Vulnerable Organization, Ethiopia), Mao Lang (Meahto Phum Ko'mah, Cambodia).

From Stories and Snapshots to Pleasure and Purpose: Capturing the Flow of Subjective Wellbeing Over Time. Paul Dolan (PI) (Economics, London School of Economics), Matthew Adler (Law, Duke University), Roger Crisp (Philosophy, University of Oxford), David Bradford (Economics, University of Georgia). 

Inequality in Agency, Optimism, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Carol Graham (PI) (Economics, The Brookings Institution, University of Maryland), Richard Reeves (Philosophy, The Brookings Institution, George Washington University), Jeremy Barofsky (Public Health & Economics, The Brookings Institution), Milena Nikolova (Public Policy & International Development, Institute for the Study of Labor).

The Folk Philosophy of Well-Being. Sonja Lyubomirsky (PI) (Psychology, University of California, Riverside), Eric Schwitzgebel (Co-PI) (Philosophy, University of California, Riverside), Daniel Ozer (Co-PI) (Psychology, University of California, Riverside), Seth Margolis (Psychology, University of California, Riverside).

Understanding High Happiness in Latin America: Human Relations and Spirituality in a Life Well Lived. Mariano Rojas (PI) (Economics, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla), Eduardo Wills (Organizational Behavior, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota), Olbeth Hansberg (Philosophy, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), René Millán (Sociology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Saamah Abdallah (Psychology, New Economics Foundation).

What is a Good Life? A Happy Life, a Perfectionist Life, or a Psychologically Rich Life? Shigehiro Oishi (PI) (Psychology, University of Virginia), Lorraine Besser (Co-PI) (Philosophy, Middlebury College).


The non-empirical grant recipients are:

Imagination and Agency. Katja Maria Vogt (PI) (Philosophy, Columbia University).

Integrating Social Cognitive Theory and Virtue Ethics. David Cloutier (PI) (Religion & Theology, Catholic University of America, Anthony Ahrens (Co-PI) (Psychology, American University).

The Moral Psychology of Inequality and its Impact on Well-Being. Alan Thomas (PI) (Philosophy, University of York), Alfred Archer (PI) (Philosophy, Tilburg University), Bart Engelen (PI) (Philosophy, Tilburg University).

Mental Suffering, the Experience of Beauty, and Wellbeing. Mark Wynn (PI) (Philosophy & Religion, University of Leeds), Anastasia Scrutton (Philosophy & Religion, University of Leeds).

The Minimally Good Life. Nicole Hassoun (PI) (Philosophy, Binghamton University).

Philosophy and the Science of Happiness. Erik Angner (PI) (Philosophy, Stockholm University).

Putting Positive Networks to Work. Michael Bishop (PI) (Philosophy, Florida State University).

Varieties of Well-Being: A Cross-Cultural Study. Owen Flanagan (PI) (Philosophy, Duke University), Wenqing Zhao (Philosophy, Duke University).

Well-Being, Agency, and Disability. Kevin Timpe (PI) (Philosophy, Calvin College).

Well-Being Amenable to Intervention. Alicia Hall (PI) (Philosophy, Mississippi State University).

Well-Being as an Object of Moral Concern: A Confucian Approach. Justin Tiwald (PI) (Philosophy, San Francisco State University)

Participants Selected for Interdisciplinary Development Workshop on Well-Being

The Happiness & Well-Being Project is pleased to announced the participants attending the Interdisciplinary Development Workshop on Well-Being in Costa Rica this summer. 

The senior participants are:

  • Dan Haybron (Philosophy, Saint Louis University)
  • Ellen Charry (Theology, Princeton University)
  • Ed Diener (Psychology, University of Illinois, University of Utah, University of Virginia)
  • Martin Seligman (Psychology, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Valerie Tiberius (Philosophy, University of Minnesota)

The junior participants, selected from a pool of over 100 applicants, are:

  • Richard Kim (Philosophy, Saint Louis University)
  • Ali Youssef Al-Seheel (Psychology, International Islamic University of Malaysia)
  • Gwen Bradford (Philosophy, Rice University)
  • Ben Bramble (Philosophy, Lund University)
  • Sukaina Hirji (Philosophy, Princeton University)
  • Markus Kneer (Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Lauren Kuykendall (Psychology, George Mason University)
  • Stephen McConnachie (Anthropology, University of Edinburgh)
  • Susanna Rinard (Philosophy, Harvard University)
  • Patty Van Cappellen (Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
  • Natalia Washington (Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis)

Click here for more information about the workshop and participants.

Well-Being Lecture Series: Richard Kim on Friendship and Well-Being at SLU on March 18

The Happiness & Well-Being Project at Saint Louis University


Dr. Richard Kim

Postdoctoral fellow at St. Louis University

"Friendship and Well-Being"


Although contemporary moral philosophers widely accept that friendship is a fundamental component of well-being, there is little discussion of why friendship is intrinsically good for us. In this presentation I explore the nature of the relationship between friendship and well-being, arguing that explaining this connection requires reflection on substantive accounts of well-being. I go on to argue that a perfectionist (or nature-fulfillment) account of well-being offers the most satisfying explanation of what makes friendship intrinsically good for us.

Friday, March 18, 3:00 – 5:00 PM Morrissey Hall 3400

Reception to follow in Adorjan Hall, first floor common area

This talk is free and open to the public


Well-Being Lecture Series: Erik Angner at SLU on January 15, 2016

The Happiness & Well-Being Project is pleased to announce the first lecture in the Well-Being Lecture Series at Saint Louis University.

Erik Angner

(George Mason University) 

"There Is No Problem of Interpersonal Comparisons"

Abstract: The proposition that interpersonal comparisons of utility are impossible has been part and parcel of mainstream economics for almost a century. These days, the proposition is invoked inter alia in arguments against happiness-based measures of well-being, which often average happiness scores across populations in an effort to represent social welfare. In this talk, I will argue that interpersonal comparisons of utility are in fact implicit in virtually all traditional economic social welfare measures as well; if such comparisons are problematic, then, the problem is not unique to happiness-based measures. Fortunately, however, I will argue but that the proposition is a piece of zombie methodology: a methodological prescription that should have been dead and buried a long time ago. Social welfare measures have many problems, but interpersonal comparisons isn’t one.

Location: Saint Louis University, Xavier Hall 332

Date & TimeJanuary 15, 2016, at 3:00 PM. 

A reception will follow in the first-floor common area of Adorjan Hall

Erik Angner's website: http://www.erikangner.com/

CFA: Development Workshop for Well-Being Research, Costa Rica

We are delighted to announce a workshop for early career scholars interested in pursuing interdisciplinary well-being research, to be held in June, 2016, in Costa Rica. We seek applicants from the sciences, philosophy, theology and religious studies. Details below (DOWNLOADABLE VERSION):

The Happiness and Well-Being Project, led by Dan Haybron of Saint Louis University, invites early career researchers in philosophy, the sciences, theology and religious studies to submit applications for a four-day summer workshop aimed at integrating scientific, philosophical, and religious perspectives on well-being. For the purposes of this workshop, “early career” or “junior” ranges from advanced graduate students (students in doctoral programs who are "all but dissertation" or the equivalent) to recently tenured faculty (preferably no more than 2-3 years past tenure).

The four-day workshop will take the form of a retreat in a secluded cloud forest location in Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica, from June 21-24, 2016. Up to 10 junior scholars and 5 senior researchers will meet to share their work and discuss key issues in contemporary well-being research. Senior participants will include:

  • Ellen Charry (theology)
  • Ed Diener (psychology)
  • Dan Haybron (philosophy)
  • Martin Seligman (psychology)
  • Valerie Tiberius (philosophy)

The project’s postdoctoral fellow, Richard Kim, will also attend.

Participants will present some of their research in an informal setting; work in progress is fine. Unlike a typical summer seminar format, “top-down” instruction from senior scholars will be kept to a minimum. A major goal of the workshop is to build a cohort of young well-being researchers who will help shape the next generation of work on well-being, bringing empirical and non-empirical approaches together.

In selecting participants, we will primarily be seeking long-term impact in advancing the cause of interdisciplinary well-being research. Participants need not claim such research as the central focus of their previous work, as it is hoped that some exceptional scholars might be persuaded to shift their efforts toward the subject. But they should have a serious interest in conducting interdisciplinary well-being research in the future.

Note that we understand interdisciplinary work broadly; for example, there is no expectation that psychologists engaging with philosophy will write philosophy papers. It may suffice simply that their researches be significantly informed by the philosophical literature, or by collaboration with philosophers.

For an illustrative (but non-exclusive) list of some of the topics that might be covered, please see the RFP questions posted on the Grants page of the project website at www.happinessandwellbeing.org.

Participants will receive travel reimbursement, food and lodging for the workshop plus travel days, funds to attend the project’s capstone conference in 2018, and a $500 stipend. Participants should plan to arrive at the venue by June 20, and depart June 25. A short reading list will be provided in advance of the workshop, with which all participants should be familiar.

How to Apply
Applicants should submit the following materials to wellbeing@slu.edu by January 8, 2016:

  1. A current CV
  2. A 750 word description of research interests and how they relate to the workshop’s themes
  3. One letter of recommendation (this can be submitted directly by the recommender)
  4. A writing sample (this need not focus on well-being)

For answers to questions, please email wellbeing@slu.edu.

Inaugural post, and RFP correction

We are pleased to launch the News page of the Happiness and Well-Being Project. We will periodically post new developments with the project here. Subscribers to the project mailing list, as well as followers on Facebook and Twitter, will automatically be notified of new posts.

We have posted a revised RFP on the Grants page, with a few minor clarifications and one correction: non-empirical projects can be up to 2 years in duration. This was specified in the previous version of the RFP, but a later passage erroneously stated a 1-year limit.

Stay tuned for further announcements! In coming weeks we expect to announce, among other things:

  • A competition to attend an early career development workshop in Summer 2016
  • The first of several workshops for St. Louis area well-being researchers