Utilitarianism and the Meaning of Life

Utilitas 15 (1):50-70 (2003)
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Abstract

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 avoiding the most important objections facing it and providing a principled explanation of their force.

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Thaddeus Metz
Cornell University (PhD)

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