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Recent work on the meaning of life

Ethics 112 (4):781-814. (2002)

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  1. The Traditional Yorùbá Conception of a Meaningful Life.Oladele Abiodun Balogun - 2020 - South African Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):166-178.
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  • Living as a Person Until Death: An African Ethical Perspective on Meaning in Life.Charles Nkem Okolie - 2020 - South African Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):208-218.
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  • What Good is Meaning in Life?Christopher Woodard - 2017 - De Ethica 4 (3):67-79.
    Most philosophers writing on meaning in life agree that it is a distinct kind of final value. This consensus view has two components: the ‘final value claim’ that meaning in life is a kind of final value, and the ‘distinctness claim’ that it is distinct from all other kinds of final value. This paper discusses some difficulties in vindicating both claims at once. One way to underscore the distinctness of meaning, for example, is to retain a feature of our pretheoretical (...)
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  • Eliminating ‘ Life Worth Living’.Fumagalli Roberto - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):769-792.
    This article argues for the elimination of the concept of life worth living from philosophical vocabulary on three complementary grounds. First, the basic components of this concept suffer from multiple ambiguities, which hamper attempts to ground informative evaluative and classificatory judgments about the worth of life. Second, the criteria proposed to track the extension of the concept of life worth living rest on unsupported axiological assumptions and fail to identify precise and plausible referents for this concept. And third, the concept (...)
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  • To Be or Never to Have Been: Anti-Natalism and a Life Worth Living.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4):711-729.
    David Benatar argues that being brought into existence is always a net harm and never a benefit. I disagree. I argue that if you bring someone into existence who lives a life worth living, then you have not all things considered wronged her. Lives are worth living if they are high in various objective goods and low in objective bads. These lives constitute a net benefit. In contrast, lives worth avoiding constitute a net harm. Lives worth avoiding are net high (...)
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  • What Pessimism Is.Paul Prescott - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37:337-356.
    On the standard view, pessimism is a philosophically intractable topic. Against the standard view, I hold that pessimism is a stance, or compound of attitudes, commitments and intentions. This stance is marked by certain beliefs—first and foremost, that the bad prevails over the good—which are subject to an important qualifying condition: they are always about outcomes and states of affairs in which one is personally invested. This serves to distinguish pessimism from other views with which it is routinely conflated— including (...)
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  • Meaningful Lives, Ideal Observers, and Views From Nowhere.Jason Kawall - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37:73-97.
    In recent discussions of whether our lives are or can be meaningful, appeals are often made to such things as “a view from nowhere,” or “the viewpoint of the universe.” In this paper I attempt to make sense of what it might mean for a being to possess such a perspective, and argue that common appeals to such perspectives are inadequately developed; crucially, they do not adequately account for the character of the beings taken to possess these viewpoints. In the (...)
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  • On the Meaning of “the Meaning of Life”.Tufan Kiymaz - 2019 - Filosofia Unisinos 20 (2).
    When it comes to a question as notoriously unclear as “What is the meaning of life?” clarifying the question and its conceptual setting is a necessary step before attempting to answer the question. The analysis of the concept of “the meaning of life” is a twofold task; “the meaning” and “life” both need to be examined. In this paper, I primarily focus on “the meaning”. I argue that, although there is much disagreement and confusion in the literature about the meaning (...)
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  • In Defence of Inactivity: Boredom, Serenity, and Rest in Heaven.Jonathan Hill - 2018 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 2 (2).
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  • Meaningful Work: Connecting Business Ethics and Organization Studies.Christopher Michaelson, Michael G. Pratt, Adam M. Grant & Craig P. Dunn - 2014 - Journal of Business Ethics 121 (1):77-90.
    In the human quest for meaning, work occupies a central position. Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which often serves as a primary source of purpose, belongingness, and identity. In light of these benefits to employees and their organizations, organizational scholars are increasingly interested in understanding the factors that contribute to meaningful work, such as the design of jobs, interpersonal relationships, and organizational missions and cultures. In a separate line of inquiry, scholars of business ethics (...)
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  • Five Tests for What Makes a Life Worth Living.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (4):1-21.
    I evaluate four historically precedented tests for what makes a life worth living: (1) The Suicide Test (Camus), (2) The Recurrence Test (Schopenhauer and Nietzsche), (3) The Extra Life Test (Cicero and Hume), and (4) The Preferring Not to Have Been Test (Job and Williams). I argue that all four fail and tentatively defend the heuristic value of a fifth, The Pre-Existence Test for what makes a life worth living: (5) A life worth living is one that a benevolent caretaker (...)
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  • Value in Very Long Lives.Preston Greene - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (4):416-434.
    As things currently stand, our deaths are unavoidable and our lifespans short. It might be thought that these qualities leave room for improvement. According to a prominent line of argument in philosophy, however, this thought is mistaken. Against the idea that a longer life would be better, it is claimed that negative psychological states, such as boredom, would be unavoidable if our lives were significantly longer. Against the idea that a deathless life would be better, it is claimed that such (...)
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  • Hyperagency and the Good Life – Does Extreme Enhancement Threaten Meaning?John Danaher - 2014 - Neuroethics 7 (2):227-242.
    According to several authors, the enhancement project incorporates a quest for hyperagency - i.e. a state of affairs in which virtually every constitutive aspect of agency (beliefs, desires, moods, dispositions and so forth) is subject to our control and manipulation. This quest, it is claimed, undermines the conditions for a meaningful and worthwhile life. Thus, the enhancement project ought to be forestalled or rejected. How credible is this objection? In this article, I argue: “not very”. I do so by evaluating (...)
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  • Mental Evolution and the Universal Meaning of Life.Gregor Flock - manuscript
    Is a universal meaning of life (MoL) possible? In this paper I argue for an affirmative answer: Starting out from the MoL's initial definition as "the active and successful pursuit of the ultimate end in life (UEiL)" and another initial definition of the UEiL, I first introduce four UEiL and MoL categories. In the context of their discussion, I add the elements of non-physical relation and universal scope to the definitions of UEiL and MoL (sect. 2). After those more general (...)
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  • Meaning and More Meaningful. A Modest Measure.Peter Baumann - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3):33-49.
    We often describe lives (or parts of lives) as meaningful or as not meaningful. It is also common to characterize them as more or less meaningful. Some lives, we tend to think, are more meaningful than others. But how then can one compare lives with respect to how much meaning they contain? Can one? This paper argues that (i) only a notion of rough equality can be used when comparing different lives with respect to their meaning, and that (ii) the (...)
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  • The Good Cause Account of the Meaning of Life.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):536-562.
    I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally responsible for the (...)
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  • Meaningfulness and Identities.Wai-Hung Wong - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (2):123-148.
    Three distinct but related questions can be asked about the meaningfulness of one's life. The first is 'What is the meaning of life?', which can be called 'the cosmic question about meaningfulness'; the second is 'What is a meaningful life?', which can be called 'the general question about meaningfulness'; and the third is 'What is the meaning of my life?', which can be called 'the personal question about meaningfulness'. I argue that in order to deal with all three questions we (...)
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  • Does Anything Matter?Stephen O'Connor - unknown
    I defend the claim that some things genuinely matter to human beings. This involves overcoming a series of arguments which suggest that the things that matter to us are arbitrary. These arguments arise out of Nagel’s claim that life is absurd. The thesis also discusses different senses in which life can be said to have meaning. I put religious accounts of the meaning of life to one side. Instead, I focus on outlining how someone can experience their own life as (...)
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  • A Life Worth Living.Aaron Smuts - manuscript
    Theories of well-being tell us what makes a life good for the one who lives it. But there is more to what makes a life worth living than just well-being. We care about the worth of our lives, and we are right to do so. I defend an objective list theory of the worth of a life: The most worthwhile lives are those high in various objective goods. These principally include welfare and meaning. By distinguishing between worth and welfare, we (...)
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  • Assessing Lives, Giving Supernaturalism Its Due, and Capturing Naturalism: Reply to 13 Critics of Meaning in Life.Thaddeus Metz - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3):228-278.
    A lengthy reply to several critical discussions of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ appearing in the _Journal of Philosophy of Life_. The contributors are from a variety of philosophical traditions, including the Anglo-American, Continental and East Asian (especially Buddhist and Japanese) ones.
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  • Reconsidering Meaning in Life: A Philosophical Dialogue with Thaddeus Metz.Masahiro Morioka (ed.) - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy of Life, Waseda University.
    An e-book devoted to 13 critical discussions of Thaddeus Metz's book "Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study", with a lengthy reply from the author. -/- Preface Masahiro Morioka i -/- Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study Thaddeus Metz ii-vi -/- Source and Bearer: Metz on the Pure Part-Life View of Meaning Hasko von Kriegstein 1-18 -/- Fundamentality and Extradimensional Final Value David Matheson 19-32 -/- Meaningful and More Meaningful: A Modest Measure Peter Baumann 33-49 -/- Is Meaning in (...)
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  • The No-Self View and the Meaning of Life.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2019 - Philosophy East and West 69 (2):419-438.
    Several philosophers, both in Buddhist and Western philosophy, claim that the self does not exist. The no-self view may, at first glance, appear to be a reason to believe that life is meaningless. In the present article, I argue indirectly in favor of the no-self view by showing that it does not entail that life is meaningless. I then examine Buddhism and argue, further, that the no-self view may even be construed as partially grounding an account of the meaning of (...)
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  • Value in Very Long Lives.Preston Greene - forthcoming - New Content is Available for Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    _ Source: _Page Count 19 As things currently stand, our deaths are unavoidable and our lifespans short. It might be thought that these qualities leave room for improvement. According to a prominent line of argument in philosophy, however, this thought is mistaken. Against the idea that a longer life would be better, it is claimed that negative psychological states, such as boredom, would be unavoidable if our lives were significantly longer. Against the idea that a deathless life would be better, (...)
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  • Painful Art and the Limits of Well-Being.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - In Jerrold Levinson (ed.), Suffering Art Gladly: The Paradox of Negative Emotions in Art. Palgrave/ Macmillan.
    In this chapter I explore what painful art can tell us about the nature and importance of human welfare. My goal is not so much to defend a new solution to the paradox of tragedy, as it is to explore the implications of the kinds of solutions that I find attractive. Both nonhedonic compensatory theories and constitutive theories explain why people seek out painful art, but they have troublesome implications. On some narrow theories of well-being, they imply that painful art (...)
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  • Neutrality, Partiality, and Meaning in Life.Thaddeus Metz - 2017 - De Ethica 4 (3):7-25.
    Discussion of whether values and norms are neutral or not has mainly appeared in works on the nature of prudential rationality and morality. Little systematic has yet appeared in the up and coming field of the meaning of life. What are the respects in which the value of meaningfulness is neutral or, in contrast, partial, relational, or ‘biased’? In this article, I focus strictly on answering this question. First, I aim to identify the salient, and perhaps exhaustive, respects in which (...)
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  • La ricerca di un senso nella vita, la prospettiva morale e i limiti di una concezione sentimentalista.Stefano Bacin - 2017 - Etica E Politica 19 (2):287-304.
    I discuss Eugenio Lecaldano’s view of the search for meaning in life as presented in "Sul senso della vita" (Bologna, il Mulino, 2016), focusing on three issues. First, I suggest that an accurate account should accommodate both a prospective and a retrospective mode of the reflection on meaning in one’s own life. Second, I argue that Lecaldano’s distinction between meaningfulness and morality is underdetermined in two respects: (a) because a more flexible view of morality is able to integrate a consideration (...)
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  • Die Eigenständigkeit des sinnvollen Lebens innerhalb des guten Lebens.Sebastian Muders - 2018 - Zeitschrift Für Praktische Philosophie 5 (2):79-118.
    Der Beitrag untersucht zwei Vorschläge von Susan Wolf und Thaddeus Metz zur Eigenständigkeit des sinnvollen Lebens gegenüber dem Leben in Wohlergehen sowie dem moralischen Leben und entwickelt diese weiter. Während beide Vorschläge sich auf einen Ansatzpunkt zur Entwicklung ihrer Abgrenzungskriterien beschränken – Arten von Gütern oder Arten motivierender Gründe –, basiert die hier verfochtene Eigenständigkeitsthese auf der Idee, dass eine Kombination beider erforderlich ist, um eine zufriedenstellende Unterscheidung des sinnvollen Lebens vom Leben in Wohlergehen und dem moralisch geführten Leben zu (...)
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  • Is Life’s Meaning Ultimately Unthinkable?: Guy Bennett-Hunter on the Ineffable.Thaddeus Metz - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (4):1247-1256.
    In this critical notice of Guy Bennett-Hunter’s book _Ineffability and Religious Experience_, I focus on claims he makes about what makes a life meaningful. According to Bennett-Hunter, for human life to be meaningful it must obtain its meaning from what is beyond the human and is ineffable, which constitutes an ultimate kind of meaning. I spell out Bennett-Hunter’s rationale for making this claim, raise some objections to it, and in their wake articulate an alternative conception of ultimate meaning.
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  • Meaningfulness as Contribution.Frank Martela - 2017 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (2):232-256.
    This article aims to offer a refined way of understanding what we mean by the concepts of meaningfulness and meaning in life. The first step is to separate worthwhileness, as the broadest evaluation of life taking all types of values into account, from meaningfulness, which is seen as one type of intrinsic value along with, for example, well-being, moral praiseworthiness, and authenticity, which I argue are also separate types of intrinsic value. After discussing why we should not settle with the (...)
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  • Sentido da Vida E valor da Vida: Uma diferença crucial.Júlio Cabrera - 2004 - Philósophos - Revista de Filosofia 9 (1).
    Neste trabalho, vou sustentar que perguntar pelo sentido da vida (humana) não é o mesmo que perguntar pelo seu valor; que freqüentemente estas duas questões se confundem; que ambas as questões têm respostas claras; que, para ser respondidas, elas devem colocar-se numa dupla dimensão, habitualmente ignorada pelos filósofos de tendência analítica: o sentido ou valor da vida mesma, e o sentido ou valor do que acontece dentro da vida. Sustentarei que não reconhecer essa dupla dimensão prejudica os tratamentos analíticos usuais (...)
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  • On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life.Berit Brogaard & Barry Smith - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):443-458.
    A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question?a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face ths proposal. One concerns responsiblity: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more (...)
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  • Absurdity, Angst, and the Meaning of Life.Duncan Pritchard - 2010 - The Monist 93 (1):3-16.
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  • Utilitarianism and the Meaning of Life.Thaddeus Metz - 2003 - Utilitas 15 (1):50-70.
    This article addresses the utilitarian theory of life's meaning according to which a person's existence is significant just in so far as she makes those in the world better off. One aim is to explore the extent to which the utilitarian theory has counter-intuitive implications about which lives count as meaningful. A second aim is to develop a new, broadly Kantian theory of what makes a life meaningful, a theory that retains much of what makes the utilitarian view attractive, while (...)
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  • Conceptualizing Great Meaning in Life: Metz on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.Iddo Landau - 2013 - Religious Studies 49 (4):505-514.
    This article is a reply to Thaddeus Metz's (2011). I suggest that Metz's theory is too broad since it entails that merely understanding Einstein's or Darwin's views can make a life highly meaningful. Furthermore, it is unclear whether , toward which highly meaningful lives are oriented, may or may not be necessary conditions to , how completely the former should explain the latter, and whether Metz's account is indeed non-consequentialist. While acknowledging the importance of Metz's contribution, I consider alternative directions (...)
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  • Anti-Meaning and Why It Matters.Stephen M. Campbell & Sven Nyholm - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (4): 694-711.
    It is widely recognized that lives and activities can be meaningful or meaningless, but few have appreciated that they can also be anti-meaningful. Anti-meaning is the polar opposite of meaning. Our purpose in this essay is to examine the nature and importance of this new and unfamiliar topic. In the first part, we sketch four theories of anti-meaning that correspond to leading theories of meaning. In the second part, we argue that anti-meaning has significance not only for our attempts to (...)
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  • Education and Life's Meaning.Anders Schinkel, Doret J. Ruyter & Aharon Aviram - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (2):n/a-n/a.
    There are deep connections between education and the question of life's meaning, which derive, ultimately, from the fact that, for human beings, how to live—and therefore, how to raise one's children—is not a given but a question. One might see the meaning of life as constitutive of the meaning of education, and answers to the question of life's meaning might be seen as justifying education. Our focus, however, lies on the contributory relation: our primary purpose is to investigate whether and (...)
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  • Education and Life's Meaning.Anders Schinkel, Doret J. de Ruyter & Aharon Aviram - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (3):398-418.
    There are deep connections between education and the question of life's meaning, which derive, ultimately, from the fact that, for human beings, how to live—and therefore, how to raise one's children—is not a given but a question. One might see the meaning of life as constitutive of the meaning of education, and answers to the question of life's meaning might be seen as justifying education. Our focus, however, lies on the contributory relation: our primary purpose is to investigate whether and (...)
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  • New Developments in the Meaning of Life.Thaddeus Metz - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (2):196–217.
    In this article I survey philosophical literature on the topic of what, if anything, makes a person’s life meaningful, focusing on systematic texts that are written in English and that have appeared in the last five years (2002-2007). My aims are to present overviews of the most important, fresh, Anglo-American positions on meaning in life and to raise critical questions about them worth answering in future work.
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  • Transcending Absurdity.Joe Mintoff - 2008 - Ratio 21 (1):64–84.
    Many of us experience the activities which fill our everyday lives as meaningful, and to do so we must (and do) hold them to be important. However, reflection undercuts this confidence: our activities are aimed at ends which are arbitrary, in that we have reason to regard our taking them so seriously as lacking justification; they are comparatively insignificant; and they leave little of any real permanence. Even though we take our activities seriously, and our everyday lives to be important, (...)
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  • One Danger of Biomedical Enhancements.Alex Rajczi - 2008 - Bioethics 22 (6):328–336.
    In the near future, our society may develop a vast array of medical enhancements. There is a large debate about enhancements, and that debate has identified many possible harms. This paper describes a harm that has so far been overlooked. Because of some particular features of enhancements, we could come to place more value on them than we actually should. This over-valuation would lead us to devote time, energy, and resources to enhancements that could be better spent somewhere else. That (...)
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  • Intrinsic Value and Meaningful Life.Robert Audi - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):331-355.
    Abstract I distinguish various ways in which human life may be thought to be meaningful and present an account of what might be called existential meaningfulness. The account is neutral with respect to both theism and naturalism, but each is addressed in several places and the paper's main points are harmonious with certain versions of both. A number of important criteria for existential meaningfulness are examined, and special emphasis is placed on criteria centering on creativity and excellence, on contributing to (...)
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  • Optimistic Naturalism: Scientific Advancement and the Meaning of Life.Dan Weijers - 2014 - Sophia 53 (1):1-18.
    Naturalist theories of the meaning of life are sometimes criticised for not setting the bar high enough for what counts as a meaningful life. Tolstoy’s version of this criticism is that Naturalist theories do not describe really meaningful lives because they do not require that we connect our finite lives with the infinite. Another criticism of Naturalist theories is that they cannot adequately resolve the Absurd—the vast difference between how meaningful our actions and lives appear from subjective and objective viewpoints. (...)
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  • Introduction.Thaddeus Metz - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):311-329.
    This article introduces a special issue of Philosophical Papers devoted to the topic of meaning in life. In the paper, I engage with articles by Robert Audi, David Velleman, John Martin Fischer, Laurence Thomas, Berit Brogaard, Barry Smith and Larry James, laying out their central views, criticizing them, and suggesting ways they could be developed.
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  • Achievement and the Meaningfulness of Life.Laurence James - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):429-442.
    In this paper I present a novel account of achievement and I argue that, all other things being equal, the presence of this particular type of achievement in a person’s life makes that life more meaningful. In arguing for this conclusion, I explore the connections between m-achievements and a person’s self-conception and especially the idea that m-achievements provide a reason for the revision of one’s self-conception.
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