Standards, Perspectives, and the Meaning of Life: A Reply to Seachris
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In a recent article in this journal, Joshua W. Seachris (2012) argues that the distinction I make between perspectives and standards in sub specie aeternitatis arguments for the meaninglessness of life does not hold for a salient component of the sub specie aeternitatis perspective: the ontological-normative component. In this article I suggest that Seachris’s argument is problematic in a number of ways and ought to be rejected.
Various authors, such as Albert Camus (1969, p. 78), Nicholas Rescher (1990, p. 153) and Simon Blackburn (2001, p. 79), have argued that when lives are considered as a part of very large temporal or spatial contexts, they are realized to be meaningless. Considered in the context of a million years, whatever one chooses or achieves in a life or even the fact that one has existed seems unimportant: the world would be the same in a million years whether or not we had existed and whatever we might or might not have done. Our effect on the...
KeywordsMeaning of life Pessimism Standards Sub specie aeternitatis Value theory
I am very grateful to Saul Smilansky and two anonymous referees for Ethical Theory and Moral Practice for extremely helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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