Dan Haybron is the Theodore R. Vitali C.P. Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. He received his PhD in philosophy at Rutgers University. His research focuses on ethics and the philosophy of psychology, with an emphasis on well-being, as well as related issues in political philosophy. He has published numerous articles in these areas. In 2015 he was awarded a $5.1 million grant for a three-year project, Happiness and Well-Being: Integrating Research Across the Disciplines, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Saint Louis University. He is the author of The Pursuit of Unhappiness: The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being (Oxford University Press, 2008), and Happiness: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013). A new monograph, The Lives We Should Want, is under contract with Oxford University Press. He is also active in the policy arena, including work with the United Nations, Bhutan, and Mexico, and is currently a core workgroup member of the Vatican’s initiative on Science and Ethics for Happiness and Well-Being.
About the Vitali Chair in Philosophy
My position was made possible by a generous gift from my extraordinary mentor, colleague and friend, Fr. Ted Vitali. He has given the most riveting talks on happiness I've heard, and is also fascinating on the subjects of conservation and hunting. Here is a short print interview with Fr. Ted.
Click on images to get high-res copies for fliers etc.
Headshot photos by Christa Denney
About the header photos on this site
Home: Humboldt County, California
Research: Hogan, Navajo Nation
Media: Ming Dynasty-era roofing, Yangshuo, China
Teaching: Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, Bhutan
This page: South Point, Ocracoke, North Carolina.
All by Dan Haybron
The image of me on the homepage is by Université de Montréal
The photos below on this page are by Ron and Alice Haybron
The footer image is our old front "yard" on Ocracoke, 1970s or 80s.
Regarding the header photo above
There is a story to this picture. We'd sailed out to South Point and anchored the O'Day for a couple hours. Strolling the Sound shore, sharp-eyed young Sarah spied some indistinct blobs in the sand and called me over. Having found and husbanded thousands of critters along these shores over many years, I expertly concluded: "sea snot, maybe jellies."
Unconvinced, Sarah fetched a bucket, added water and snot-blobs, and watched. Like little toy dinosaurs that grow when added to water, the blobs quickly unfurled, revealing the most lovely animals I had ever spotted in the wild: sea slugs, or more exactly, Sargassum Nudibranchs. If there were golden orchids that could swim, I suppose that's what they'd look like.
Here you see Sarah and brothers Michael and Will gazing in wonder at the magical contents of their bucket. We later transferred two of them to our wild aquarium, where they thrived and laid eggs until all were released to the sea.
I was born to Ron and Alice Haybron at a nuclear weapons facility (aka, Oak Ridge, Tennessee) and later raised in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland, as well as Ocracoke, North Carolina. I reside in St. Louis, Missouri with my wife Elizabeth and three children.
Some of the peculiarities of my work may owe to a somewhat mongrel upbringing. I grew up with one foot in the 19th century American culture, one foot in the 21st, one foot in the city, one foot in the country, one foot in the North, one in the South, one foot in conservative culture, one foot in progressive. Also, I don't care for shoes.
My philosophical approach owes a great deal to my parents, not to mention their exceptionally weird and wonderful circle of friends. (A film was made about two of them, but there could have been many films about this bunch.)
Alice was a gifted painter with an uncanny eye for the beauty in other persons, and in the world. She painted in many styles, one represented in the cover art for my book, The Pursuit of Unhappiness. She had the intuitive, down-to-Earth sense of things, and didn't need a blizzard of words to get to the heart of the matter. I try in my work to follow her model, keeping the words from getting in the way of understanding. That's the hardest part, I think, of doing good philosophy.
Ron had a more analytic scientific eye, and a good deal of my philosophical work attempts to build on his insights. He was a physicist, science educator and writer, among other things, though his favorite job was straightening railroad tracks with a bunch of scary ex-cons. Both parents were regrettably inept at marketing their work, though I still hope to finish editing a book-length version of this essay about our times on the island, sort of a well-being version of Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac.
More about my parents and their works can be found at this website.