On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life

  • Berit Brogaard
  • Barry C Smith


A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question-a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face this proposal. One concerns responsibility: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more meaning than a life with the same positive outcomes but which lacks responsibility on the part of the agent? The other turns on these outcomes themselves: how can the meaningfulness engendered by actions you perform now be affected by what those actions go on to produce in the future, perhaps even after your death? We provide a response to both of these difficulties.

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eISSN: 0556-8641