Meaning in Life and Becoming More Fulfilled

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 20 (1) (2021)
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Subjectivism about meaning in life remains a viable option, despite its relative unpopularity. Two arguments against it in the literature, the first by Susan Wolf and the second by Aaron Smuts and Antti Kauppinen, fail. Pace Wolf, lives devoted to activities of no objective value need not be pointless, unproductive, and futile, and so not prima facie meaningless; and, pace Smuts and Kauppinen, subjectivism is compatible with people being mistaken about how meaningful their own lives are. This paper elaborates a novel subjectivist view according to which becoming more fulfilled makes a life meaningful for a person. Becoming more fulfilled is a process that has being more fulfilled as its endpoint, and, as with any process, it can come to a halt before it is complete. More substantively, becoming more fulfilled by some x is a matter of aiming to do various activities well, where doing them well at least partly constitutes benefiting x, and requires that one be more fulfilled by x than one presently is. Finally, this paper shows why the becoming more fulfilled view is to be preferred to the standard subjectivist theory, the fulfillment view, and how it produces intuitive results.



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W. Jared Parmer
RWTH Aachen University

References found in this work

Love as valuing a relationship.Niko Kolodny - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (2):135-189.
Meaningfulness and Time.Antti Kauppinen - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):345-377.
The Good Cause Account of the Meaning of Life.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):536-562.
Consequentialism about Meaning in Life.Ben Bramble - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (4):445-459.
Love as Valuing a Relationship.Niko Kolodny - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (2):135-189.

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