Philosophy 375: Special Topics/Theories of Happiness

Fall Semester, 2014

Jacksonville University

Dr. Scott Kimbrough

Office: Council 121

Office hours: M-W 11:00-12:00, after class, or by appointment

Office phone: 256-7118

e-mail address:

Last updated 11/7/14

Resources and Announcements

Course Description:

Everyone wants to be happy. But what is happiness, and how can it be achieved? This class will explore systematic efforts to answer these questions, both from historically influential philosophical and religious traditions and contemporary social science and philosophy. Theories covered include stoicism, Buddhism, hedonism, positive psychology, life satisfaction theory, and emotional state theory. Students will produce and share independent research projects. 

Required Books:

Jonathan Haidt. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. Basic Books. 2006.

Daniel M. Haybron. Happiness: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2013.

There will be a number of additional texts, either via links in the reading list below or in the Course Documents section of Blackboard.

Course Requirements:

Participation and Attendance: Attendance and participation in discussions are expected.

Reading Quizzes (10%): At the beginning of each class, a brief multiple choice quiz will be given to insure that students are keeping up with the reading.

Research explorations (10%): Every week, each student will find a source that is potentially relevant to their research project and write a one page report. The report includes a summary of the source and a discussion of its relevance to potential research topics. Reports will be shared with the class, with one third of the students signing up for Monday reports, one third for Wednesday reports, and one third for Friday reports.

Research process (10%): Successful research projects take time. There will be periodic deadlines for abstracts, rough drafts, peer reviews, etc. Students meeting all these deadlines will receive full credit for research process. Each missed deadline will incur a 5-15 point penalty.

Research paper (40%): Each student will write an approximately 12 page research paper on a topic of their own choosing. A list of potential topics and more specific instructions for the paper will be covered in class.

Research presentation (10%): In the last week of class, each student will give a 15-20 minute presentation of their research to the class.

Take-home Final Exam (20%): The final exam will focus on comparison and evaluation of the course readings.

Plagiarism and Academic Honesty

Plagiarism consists in copying or closely paraphrasing the work of another, in whole or in part, without citing the source. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will result in penalties up to failure of the course. Furthermore, plagiarists will be reported to the Chief Academic Officer.

Americans with Disabilities

Reasonable accommodations will be made upon request for students with documented disabilities.

This Syllabus



Dr. Kimbrough's homepage.