Worthy Lives

Social Theory and Practice 32 (2):185-212 (2010)
Abstract
Susan Wolf's paper "Meaning and Morality" draws our attention to the fact that Williams's objection to Kantian morality is primarily a concern about a possible conflict between morality and that which gives our lives meaning. I argue that the force of Williams's objection requires a more precise understanding of meaning as dependent on our intention to make our lives themselves worthwhile. It is not meaning simpliciter that makes Williams's objective persuasive but rather meaning as arising out of our positive evaluation of the value of our lives as a whole. This type of meaning has a normative element: it involves a person's deep-seated commitment to make her actions consistent with ends that confer worth on her life itself. The more significant conflict with morality lies in the conflict between the normative force of moral requirements and the normative force of the need to have a life that is itself worthwhile
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