The Philosophy of Safety Nets

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Achieving happiness is easy. I don’t mean eudaimonia – that oversophisticated happiness for Pinot-snuffling yuppies. I mean ordinary, practical happiness for ordinary, practical folk: utility. Achieving eudaimonia is definitely not easy; at your very approach it dances away like a will-o’-the-wisp on gossamer winds of pretentiousness. But utility? Utility is solid and graspable. In fact, Australians say ‘utility’ to refer to what Americans call a ‘pick-up truck’. A ute, we normally say. What’s more blunt and practical than that? Eudaimonia is a concept for sprinkling on your puy lentils to add that certain je ne sais quoi. Utility, on the other hand, is a concept you could change your sparkplugs with.

So, achieving ute is easy. Here’s how you do it. Start with the things you have. Now exchange them with people for other things you would prefer to have. People will participate in these exchanges whenever their preferences are different to yours. This will be often, since humans are psychologically diverse. Keep exchanging for as long as your preferences fail to be maximised, and you’ll always be getting closer to full happiness.

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