Unconditional basic income and the epistemic problem of happiness
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In this thesis, it will be argued that the introduction of an unconditional basic income will have positive consequences in terms of people’s happiness. The thesis consists of six chapters. The first chapter provides an overview of the current basic income debate and positions this thesis within the debate. The second chapter considers life-satisfaction theories and a hedonistic approach before adopting the emotional state theory of happiness. The third chapter shows, through the work of Haybron (2008) and Kasser (2002), that many people are unhappy because of two factors: the epistemic problem of happiness (we are unreliable at knowing what makes us happy) and a strong focus on materialistic goals. Chapter four explains how introducing a basic income would help to overcome some of the factors that contribute to the epistemic problem of happiness as well as provide an environment that makes us less likely to be focused on materialistic goals. In chapter five I argue that the possibility for people to become lazy and/or lonely is not likely to undermine the positive consequences for happiness resulting from implementing basic income. The sixth chapter consists of a discussion of the implications for the basic income debate and the happiness debate.