Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Politicians in Pursuit of Happiness

Source: The Center for Global Development (Thanks once again, Rakesh!)


There is a burgeoning academic literature on happiness polls that has used a range of different measures and approaches across countries rich and poor alike to answer the question, “what makes people say they are happy?”

The excitement surrounding this work is well justified. These polls suggest an idea of happiness that would be broadly understood by philosophers from Aristotle to Mill to Rawls or Parfit. Happiness studies also suggest some potential reasons why we appear to act irrationally according to the dictates of revealed-preference-utility-maximization. Subjective-well-being (SWB) polls also help to illustrate some of the absurdities of taking income per capita as our measure of the ultimate good.

At the same time, a lot of things we surely care about are not reflected in SWB poll answers. Cross-country studies involving economies and societies at distinctly different levels of development suggest a limited role for income, rights, health and social factors all combined in explaining SWB. And all the usual criticisms of and concerns with utilitarianism apply to SWB polls.

Polls do not capture a be-all and end-all measure of the good. Both because of the difficulty of interpreting SWB evidence with regard to SWB-maximizing policy and because it appears clear that SWB (on whichever measure) is probably not what we want to maximize, considerable caution is required in the use of such polls for policymaking.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Maya the Poet with Vitali Maembe

"Maya Wegerif, also known as Maya the Poet was born in South Africa, lived in Tanzania and is now studying in a college in America. She is an outspoken young African voice who speaks unapologetically and with style. Her love for her continent and words blend together to fabricate this witty, outspoken and Strong-willed person." [source: Flare Magazine via Maya's website]

She'll be performing on June 16 @ the Soma Book Cafe, located at 53 Mlingotini, Regent Estate, Kinondoni, Dar-es-Salaam.

Monday, June 6, 2011

When links will fail

Will hyperlink paths be constant however long computers are "on" and connected?
If they will change, what does that mean for all the writing on webpages now, which contain links (like this) to the building blocks of their argument?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011