Between Sisyphus's Rock and a Warm and Fuzzy Place: Procreative Ethics and the Meaning of Life

In Iddo Landau (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Meaning in Life. New York: Oxford University Press (2022)
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This paper suggests that there are three kinds of meaning: Everyday, Cosmic, and Ultimate. Everyday meaning refers to the value and significance in our everyday lives, including values such as beauty, morality, and truth, and the significance of engagement with them. Cosmic meaning refers to our meaningful role in the cosmos: to the significance and value of our cosmic niche, to the purposes of the cosmos and our place in it. Ultimate meaning is the end-regarding justifying reason, the valued end, or the point of leading a life at all. It is here argued that procreating can be a deep source of Everyday meaning, and perhaps Cosmic meaning. But nothing can provide us with Ultimate meaning. The implications this may have for procreative ethics is considered.

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Rivka Weinberg
Scripps College


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