Value and Meaning of Life

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In this book Christopher Belshaw draws on earlier work concerning death, identity, animals, immortality, extinction, and builds a large-scale argument on the value and meaning of life. Rejecting suggestions that life is sacred or intrinsically valuable, he argues instead that its value varies, and varies considerably, both within and between different kinds of things. So in some case we might have reason to improve or save a life, while in others that reason will be lacking.

The book's central section focuses on just one key question; that of whether we ever have reason to start lives. Not only is it denied that there is any such reason, but some sympathy is afforded to the anti-natalist contention that there is always reason against.

The final chapters deal with meaning. Support is given to the sober and familiar view wherein meaning derives from an enthusiasm for, and some success with, the pursuit of worthwhile projects. Now suppose we are immortal. Or suppose, in contrast, that we face imminent extinction. Would either of these threaten meaning? The claim here is that the force of such threats is often exaggerated.

The Value and Meaning of Life is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy, ethics and religion, and will be of interest to all those concerned with how to live, and to how to think about the lives of others.