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Does anything matter?

O'Connor, Stephen (2007)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

I defend the claim that some things genuinely matter to human beings. This involves overcoming a series of arguments which suggest that the things that matter to us are arbitrary. These arguments arise out of Nagel’s claim (in Mortal Questions) that life is absurd. The thesis also discusses different senses in which life can be said to have meaning. I put religious accounts of the meaning of life to one side. Instead, I focus on outlining how someone can experience their own life (and the world) as meaningful. My main aim is to show that some things genuinely matter. I argue that some things genuinely matter from the perspective of the individual in virtue of the fact that they can become conscious of their own needs. So, there are facts about human nature (we are self-consciousness and have needs) that, taken together, show that some things genuinely matter to us (non-arbitrarily). These include our vital needs, our happiness and positive relationships with others. I argue that these things matter to us not simply in virtue of the fact that we happen to think that they matter (although this is certainly true). Rather, they genuinely matter to us given our nature.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Law, Iain
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Social Science
Department:Philosophy
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:205
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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