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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 37, 2012

Jason Kawall
Pages 73-97
DOI: 10.5840/jpr2012374

Meaningful Lives, Ideal Observers, and Views from Nowhere

In recent discussions of whether our lives are or can be meaningful, appeals are often made to such things as “a view from nowhere,” or “the viewpoint of the universe.” In this paper I attempt to make sense of what it might mean for a being to possess such a perspective, and argue that common appeals to such perspectives are inadequately developed; crucially, they do not adequately account for the character of the beings taken to possess these viewpoints. In the second half of the paper I turn to an alternative proposal, one that focuses on the attitudes of virtuous ideal observers in determining the normative statuses of our lives and activities, and argue that it provides a plausible account of meaningfulness.

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