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Glen Newey writes:
Robert and Edward Skidelsky’s main target is the pursuit of growth for its own sake which, as they say, has become dogma for politicians across the globe: certainly ‘mainstream’ politicians usually assume that when it comes to output, big is good, and bigger is better. But, as the Skidelskys argue, channelling human energies towards creating ever higher GDP per head needs to be justified by instrumental or constitutive reasons. They are also critical of the new ‘happiness economics’ pioneered by Richard Layard, which treats happiness in terms of satisfaction – what the late Martin Hollis called ‘microwatts of inner glow’ – not, as Aristotle did, as a harmony between character, deliberation, action and circumstance. For Aristotle, being ‘happy’ (the usual translation of eudaimon) depends on a disposition to make correct practical judgments. It also depends, for him, on having enough schole, or ‘leisure’ (one reason slaves’ lives can’t be eudaimon), and the Skidelskys follow suit.