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Meaning in Life$
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Thaddeus Metz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599318.001.0001

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Objectivism I

Objectivism I

Being Attracted, Meriting Attraction, and Promoting Consequences

(p.180) 10 Objectivism I
Meaning in Life

Thaddeus Metz

Oxford University Press

Chapter 10 begins the search for the best version of objective naturalism, the view that purely physical ways of living can be meaningful, and not merely because they are the object of propositional attitudes. This chapter criticizes two of the three major forms of objectivism in the literature, starting with the currently dominant view, namely, Susan Wolf’s theory that meaningfulness is being attracted to what merits attraction. The chapter then takes up consequentialism, especially the utilitarian view, suggested by Peter Singer, that meaning comes from making those in the world better off. Utilitarianism is rejected not only because meaning need not involve promoting well-being, but also because of its consequentialist or teleological structure. There are respects in which promoting well-being, or even excellence ò la Thomas Hurka’s perfectionism, insufficiently captures meaningful conditions. That is, certain ‘agent-relative’ ways of responding to final goodness are shown to be essential for an adequate theory.

Keywords:   Agent-relativity, Consequentialism, Perfectionism, Peter Singer, Susan Wolf, Teleology, Thomas Hurka, Utilitarianism

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