Neutrality, Partiality, and Meaning in Life

De Ethica 4 (3):7-25 (2017)
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Abstract

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 issues of neutrality arise in the contexts of life’s meaning. In addition to providing a taxonomy of the key points of contention, a second aim is to advance reflection about them by considering the most important arguments that have been marshalled in favour of one side or the other, particularly as they appear in recent neutral positions. I conclude that meaning in life is neutral with respect to time but not any other conditions such as agents and patients, with a third aim being to point out that this makes the value of meaning different from the kinds of non/neutrality encountered in some salient conceptions of prudence and morality.

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Thaddeus Metz
University of Pretoria

Citations of this work

'It Doesn’T Matter Because One Day It Will End'.Preston Greene - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (1):165-182.
Die Eigenständigkeit des sinnvollen Lebens innerhalb des guten Lebens.Sebastian Muders - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie 5 (2):79-118.

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References found in this work

Internal and External Reasons.Bernard Williams - 1979 - In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action. Cambridge University Press. pp. 101-113.
Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.
Persons, Character, and Morality.Bernard Williams - 1976 - In James Rachels (ed.), Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers 1973–1980. Cambridge University Press.

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