Bok, Sissela, Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2010) ("My second aim was to consider . . . perennial moral issues about how we should lead our lives and how we should treat another. What are the wisest steps to take in the pursuit of happiness? What moral considerations should set limits to such pursuits? What else should matter in human life aside from happiness? How should we weigh our own happiness against that of others in a world where we are aware, as never before, of extremes of misery and opulence? How might we best take into account what we are learning about the effects of our individual and collective choices on the prospects for the well-being of future generation? And how should we respond to individuals and groups advocating intolerant or outright inhumane conceptions of happiness or well0being?" "Bypassing such moral issues makes it easier to give short shrift to assumptions that form the subtext to even the most innocuous-seeming views of happiness. These assumptions concern power--power exerted or defended against, whether in families, communities, or political and religious institutions. Often unspoken, these assumptions are about who has the right to pursue happiness, who does or does not deserve happiness, and whether the happiness of some requires the exclusion or exploitation of others, Today, conflicts over them are playing out on a far larger stage than ever before, reaching billions of individuals across the globe, their fortunes affected by global economics shifts beyond their control, their hopes fanned by mass media promotion of methods for achieving happiness in daily life or for finding the path to eternal bliss." Id. at 4. This is a thought-provoking read. However, in this age of the narcissist, the book will go pretty much unread because it requires one to think about the impact of one's choices on others..).
Coles, Robert, Handling One Another Along: Literature and Social Reflection, edited by Trevor Hall & Vicki Kennedy (New York: Random House, 2010) (From the book jacket: "In this book on shaping a meaningful and ethical life, . . . Robert Coles explores how character, courage, and human and moral understanding can be fostered by reflecting on the lives of others, through great literature and art. . . .").
Harris, Sam, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (New York: The Free Pres, 2010) ("I will argue . . . that questions about values--about meaning, morality, and life's larger purpose--are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures. Values, therefore, translate into facts that can be scientifically understood: regarding positive and negative social emotions, retributive impulses, the effects of specific laws and social institutions on human relationships, the neurophysiology of happiness and suffering, etc. The most important of these facts are bound to transcend culture--just as facts about physical and mental health do. Cancer in the highlands of New Guinea is still cancer; cholera is still cholera; schizophrenia is still schizophrenia; and so, too, I will argue, compassion is still compassion, and well-being is still well-being. And if there are important cultural differences in how people flourish--if, for instance, there are incompatible but equivalent ways to raise happy, intelligent, and creative children--these difference are also facts that must depend upon the organization of the human brain. In principle, therefore, we can account for the ways in which culture defines us within the content of neuroscience and psychology. The more we understand ourselves at the level of the brain, the more we will see that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human values." Id. at 1-2.).