Neutrality, Partiality, and Meaning in Life
AbstractDiscussion 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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