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April 06, 2014


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Thanks a lot for this, Cheshire. Two quick questions about the view you're working out. First, can I assume that the sincerely-judging blades-of-grass-counter gets included under your meaningfulness rubric? Second, to what extent do those with moderate cognitive disabilities, say, get included under the meaningfulness rubric? I suspect they would lack sufficient reasoning and judgmental capacities necessary to setting ends and organizing practical activities around them (in virtue, say, of their lacking important abstraction capacities), but they may well be capable of a rich array of emotional dispositions -- cares -- that might seem nevertheless to help construct the boundaries of meaningfulness.

Let me echo David's thanks, Cheshire. This topic is near and dear to me and I am always grateful for such keen insight. Putting my cards on the table, I am an "objectivist" who is cheerful to equate 'meaningful' with good. As such, I would like to hear more about the mistake I am making in being interested in 'meaningful living' as a philosopher.

Here's my attempt to defend my interest: The ongoing philosophical debate suggests that what 'meaningful' equates to is non-obvious, so there is room for careful philosophical work on the matter. Moreover, resolving the debate in the "objectivist" manner has significant payoff in our understanding of the ordinary language (e.g. we better 'get' the nihilistic teenager who cries "Life is meaningless!"). That resolving the debate in this manner would threaten further philosophical work seems no great disaster especially since the same could be said of nearly any philosophical account.

Or, perhaps, I have misunderstood and this is merely a matter of taste (as when some refrain from metaphysics, others from ethics, and others from the philosophy of religion) and I have here defended something in need of no defense.

Hi Cheshire,

Thanks for this. Interesting stuff. Could you say something about what, on your view, is the connection between leading a meaningful life and reasons for action. And could you say little more about just how subjective your account is. On the one hand, you say, "Spending your life’s time on an activity contributes meaning to your life when it is an end of yours that you take yourself, in your own best judgment, to have reasons to value." Now, that sounds pretty subjective. After all, Hitler clearly took himself to be spending his life's time on an activity that he took himself to have reason to value. But, on the other hand, you seem to suggest that you want to limit just how subjective your account is. For you say that, on your account, there is only "a certain amount of permissiveness about the kind of lives that count as meaningfully lived ones." And you suggest that the actual objective reasons that Hitler had for living his life differently would have to have been out of Hitler's "reach" in order for his life to count as meaningfully lived. So I want to know whether a fictionalized version of Hitler who was successful in winning the war and killing the Jews would have counted as having lived a meaningful life on your view. And if it doesn't because the reasons for living his life differently were in reach, then please tell me in virtue of what they count as being in reach.

If you say that included among the reasons that Mother Teresa "had access to" was "her hearing the voice of Jesus telling her 'Come, come, carry Me into the holes of the poor. Come be My light'," then I don't see how you're going to deny that Hitler had access to reasons for thinking that his belligerent and genocidal life was one that he had reason to value. After all, Mother Teresa didn't actually hear Jesus's voice -- or let's assume for the sake of argument. She was deluded in thinking that she was hearing the voice of Jesus just as Hitler was deluded in thinking that what he was doing was noble and right. Of course, you could just go purely subjectivist and say that Hitler's life was meaningful by his own lights, but then I think that you will have thereby divorced your notion of a meaningful live from reasons for action entirely. And then I wonder why we should care about whether our lives are meaningful in this subjective sense.

David: All of the fantastical examples, including the counting blades of grass one, are ones that raise the question of whether the person has set ends at all, is capable of setting ends, or has used their best judgment. Unlike a straightforward fulfillment view where all that counts is one's passion for what one is doing, the normative outlook view takes meaningfulness to be connected to one's reason-based choices. That means we can always challenge people's claims to be leading a meaningful life by asking them for their reasons and challenging those reasons. Thanks for asking about the moderately cognitively disabled. I wouldn't have thought that there was a reason for thinking they could not set ends and could not say something about why they set the ends they do, including why they care about the activities they engage with. Indeed, one of my worries about objectivist views is it looks to me as though the most meaningful lives are beyond most of our reach because the most excellent lives are beyond our reach.

Mark: I'm not sure I'm entirely following you, so I might need some help. But let me just say a bit more about my reservations with the objectivist view. One concern I didn't mention in the original post is that objectivist views is seem to have maximizing implications--i.e., insofar as we are concerned with the meaningfulness of our lives, we ought to spend quantitatively more of our time in qualitatively better activities. As a result, less excellent activities would be crowded out (and it intuitively seems to me that that will not necessarily produce a more meaningful life). Hybrid theories may have some resources for preventing this from happening. Perhaps an objectivist view could also prevent this from happening by including some global properties of a life--such as balance of interests--in the account. So I'm curious about your view.

The two standard kinds of counter-examples to subjectivist accounts are the trivial life (e.g., counting blades of grass) and the immoral life (e.g., Hitler) cases. So I'm glad they've gotten on the table immediately. I'm using 'reasons' to refer to the agent's own reasons--what a person says to themselves to justify their choice and ordering of ends, and what the person says to others. Mother Teresa may have been deluded about the Voice, but that was her reason for choosing her work in India, and for acting on that choice. Those reasons are, of course, not beyond challenge by others, which may (or may not) have the result of getting one to revise one's best judgment. What I had in mind by "certain permissiveness" came out in response to David--some of the more fantastical examples would need a lot of fleshing out to be plausible examples of end setting activity. But you are right, my view does permit trivial lives and immoral lives to count as meaningful lives. Since I do not equate 'meaningful life' with 'good life,' Hitler's life would, of course, be criticizable as morally monstrous. One benefit of a subjectivist view on which immoral lives can be meaningful (which, keep in mind, does not mean that they are necessarily candidates for our own meaningful lives), is that it helps us understand why incarceration is a serious punishment. It deprives the person of the option of pursuing the very ends that, in their own best judgment, they have reason to pursue. Part of the punitive penalty of incarceration (or of the kind of drug Alex is subjected to in A Clockwork Orange) is deprivation of the opportunity to lead a meaningful life.

Hi Cheshire,

Thanks, that's helpful. Can you tell me, though, what connection, if any, there is between (normative, not explanatory or motivating) reasons for action and a meaningful life. Do I necessarily have any (or some or sufficient or decisive) reason to pursue a meaningful life? You seem to allow that someone can take herself to have reasons to spend a lifetime pursuing a project that is not, in fact, worth spending anytime on. But in that case I wonder if one has any reason at all to pursue a meaningful life except when one happens to be pursuing projects that one in fact has reason to pursue. Given your subjective account of meaningfulness, it seems that it could be that in order for someone like Hitler to lead a meaningful life he would have to pursue activities and projects that, in fact, he has no reason to pursue. Why, then, should he pursue a meaningful life? If a meaningful life isn't necessarily a valuable one, then the reason to pursue a meaningful life isn't tied to value. Does having a meaningful life necessarily enhance one's well-being? In other words, what reason is there to pursue a meaningful life? And if there is no reason to pursue a meaningful life independent of whatever reason one has to pursue the projects that one takes one's self to have reason to pursue, then why should we care about living a meaningful life?

Hi Doug,
These are excellent questions. Perhaps an analogy would be useful in clarifying why I think meaningfulness should be assessed in terms of what the person judges are good reasons for valuing even if those depart from the correct reasons for valuing. Suppose you set out to buy me a book for my birthday. You know that reading mysteries is one of my ends, particularly mysteries by Fred Vargas. I tell you my reasons for valuing mysteries and spending my time reading them. You find those reasons unpersuasive and are convinced that what I in fact have reason to spend time reading is some philosophy text, so that's what you buy for me. You may have provided me with what I have most reason to spend time reading (and one that perhaps would enhance my well-being), but you haven't given me a meaningful gift. Sometimes, of course, we ignore what the person values and impose on them what we think they really have normative reason to invest their time in. We do this with our students. But it is in the hopes that they will come to appreciate the value of philosophy texts and thus find spending time on them meaningful. This gets us to your excellent question: why on my view should we value leading a meaningful life? I assume that we value the fact that persons are evaluators and are capable of leading their lives by their own lights. That capacity to exercize one's own best judgment about what there is normative reason to do is intrinsically valuable, not just valuable insofar as it latches onto what there is in fact normative reason to do. Perhaps another analogy would be useful. Suppose that given my present knowledge of Trenton and the past performance of my GPS, I believe, falsely, that my GPS is now giving me incorrect instructions; so I ignore it. This is the reasonable thing to do even if in terms of (external) reasons, I "have" reason to obey my GPS. That we think there is value is doing the reasonable (if misguided) thing is a result of our valuing the fact that we are reasoners and have the capacity to guide ourselves by the deliverances of our reason.

Very interesting project! I have a minor worry that the language of "setting ends" might have restrictive implications you don't need to endorse.

Under the influence of Tal Brewer I am thinking that the distinctive agency that we associate with persons can take one of two forms: a productive, end setting one, or a contemplative, value appreciating one. And either one could be a source of meaning, along the lines you suggest. Of course you might think of these as two ways of setting ends, but as I think Brewer points out, this way of describing things doesn't seem apt in "passive" cases in which agents feel like they are called to do something, fall in love with something, etc.

Thanks, Brad. I did wonder if that's the language I wanted, and I'm open to suggestions. What I want to capture are the ways that we expend our time on things that we take ourselves to have reason to value. Being called to do something or falling in love with it could be among your reasons. But thinking back to Larmore's "Against a Life Plan," there do seem to be meaningful time expenditures that take us by surprise. Perhaps this is what Tal had in mind?

Yeah, I bet Tal does mention cases in which we are surprised by a desire that reveals an apparent good.

Also: He focuses on people who have an indeterminate intimation of some good and who then discover the specific good as they go on in the activity. One example is when you have an inkling that something is wrong with an argument and then, on the basis of that indeterminate intimation/hunch, study things closely and try out ideas until you fix on the right one and thereby discover the specific point which you indeterminately grasped beforehand. He is focused on the idea that people do not start with a worked out/fully determinate conception of the end. Roughly: you discover the full nature of the end as you pursue the activity rather than engaging in the activity in order to realize a determinate end you set before hand. I guess I was worried that talk of setting ends suggests a model on which one adopts a determinate end/plan and then instantiates it so to speak & this is Tal's main target.

But there is the surprise case too!

I have started a paper on meaningfulness and am leaning towards talking about people being devoted to ends. This allows for the idea that we have reasons for being devoted but also seems to avoid the implication that people are enacting worked out plans in every case. But it seems that the surprise cases don't fit that language either. Hmm!

Hi Cheshire,

My question wasn't: "why on [your] view should we value leading a meaningful life?" My question was: Do we necessarily have reason to lead a meaningful life -- that is, do we necessarily have reason to do the things that constitute living a meaningful life? Since, on your view, one's leading a meaningful life requires one to spend one's life’s time on an activity that one takes oneself to have reasons to value, and since you allow that the reasons one takes oneself to have may be incorrect, it seems to me that one may have no reason to lead a life that's meaningful. For instance, it seems that on your view an immoral (or misguided) person may have to spend her life doing immoral (or trivial/worthless) things in order to live what you call a meaningful life. But why would they have reason to do these immoral (or worthless) things? Just because they value them and so are part of what you call a meaningful life? That seems to me like some objectionable bootstrapping.

Note that I agree that we should value the capacity that you speak of. Thus, we should promote the development of that capacity in ourselves and others. But having the capacity and exercising the capacity in a way that leads one to do trivial/immoral things are very different.

Thanks for a very interesting post. I want to follow-up on your last response to Doug Portmore, although he has more artfully expressed some of what I want to say in his follow-up. I share your intuition about the gift giving case, but I’m inclined to explain that intuition differently. I confess I don’t know who Fred Vargas is, but a quick Google search suggests that her books are not obviously not worth reading. More strongly, it seems like there are good reasons to read her books. The problem with the gift-giver then is that he has an unattractively narrow conception of what is worthwhile. He doesn’t realize that your ends are, in fact, tracking genuine reasons. The lesson I would draw from the example – following Wolf’s discussion of meaning – is that we should be very open minded about what ends are worth pursuing. I’m sure you don’t disagree with that! The problem, then, is to know what is doing the work in the example: is it that the gift-giver isn’t sufficiently appreciative of your ends qua *yours*? Or is that he’s not sufficiently appreciative of your ends qua *genuinely-reason-giving ends*?

I’m partial to the latter explanation, although I don’t want to say that the only thing that makes the gift meaningful is that it responds to genuine-reason-giving ends. It also matters that they are your ends. The point is just that the fact that they are your ends is not enough to make the gift meaningful. Consider, in a similar vein, Foot’s example of the “murderous Wests” in *Natural Goodness*. Suppose, in order to help them pursue their murderous ends, they could really use a new axe. Do we give a meaningful gift by buying them the axe? Perhaps we do. But then I very much feel the force of the following question: why should we care about meaning when its pursuit (or promotion) involves the pursuit (or promotion) of ends that we have no (or insufficient) reason to pursue?

And I just ordered a Fred Vargas book. They look really great!

Hi Brad: I think of the reasons for valuing that people have as sorting themselves into three kinds: First, there are what I call reasons-for-anyone. In justifying our choice of ends to ourselves and others, we draw from a (typically) public pool of reasons that support the choice-worthiness of our activity and give others (hopefully) a reason to recognize the value of what we're doing even if they do not also choose it as an end. Second, we sometimes draw on what I'm calling reasons-of-the-initiated. Some reasons for valuing an activity become accessible only once you gain familiarity with it. So, for example, some of the more salient reasons that dressage riders have for riding dressage would not be accessible to those outside the sport. These, I think, are what you had in mind in talking about discovering the full nature of an end as you pursue the activity. Finally, there's a large and heterogeneous class of reasons that I'm calling reasons-for-me. Among reasons for me (but not necessarily others) to select an end are the facts that it suits you, you enjoy it, you made a commitment, it has symbolic or historical significance for you, and so on. I am beginning to think that certain global properties of a life may figure into either reasons-for-anyone or reasons-for-me; among those global properties would be that an end fits with other ends, contributes to the narrative unity of a life, or (my personal favorite) suits your temporal management style as either a maximizer (who prefers to devote more time to higher ranked ends) or as a pluralizer (who prefers to devote less time to higher ranked ends so that lower ranked ones are not crowded out).

Cheshire: I apologize for being unclear. I am trying to better understand your worry that objectivist accounts like mine make "‘meaningful living’ a philosophically uninteresting notion." In my previous post, I was attempting to explain why I take objectivist accounts to still be of philosophical interest.

As for your new concern, I admit that I do not yet feel its force. I see how maximizing implications might be unfortunate for an account of the right (in that it might make wrongdoers out of us for spending time on our personal relationships). But it seems to me an acceptable result, even intuitive, that we live less meaningfully when we pursue those relationships over saving lives or developing a new cancer treatment. It might be in our interests to form those relationships but less meaningful. Do you have a particular case in mind? I think the devil will be in the details.

And, unfortunately, I do not have a worked out account of my own yet. But I am sympathetic towards an account on which, roughly, a meaningful life is one of positive significance.

Daniel: I hope you enjoy Fred Vargas!

Doug and Daniel:
Doug, you ask "Do we necessarily have reason to lead a meaningful life?" And Daniel, you ask in essence "Do we necessarily have reason to give the murderous Wests a meaningful gift (to wit, the axe)?" Well, no. There are lots of other kinds of evaluative considerations besides meaningfulness--moral considerations, considerations of human flourishing, of well-being, etc. We would say that what Hitler had most reason to do (using 'reason' as Doug does) is not pursue a meaningful life, and others at the time had most reason to make sure he didn't. Ditto for the axe. But the meaningfulness of the life is A reason. This is easier to see if we move away from Hitler and the murderous Wests. It's been awhile since I read Wally Lamb's I Know This Much is True. As I recall, the narrator has a schizophrenic brother who hears God telling him to cut off his hand--which he does. The narrator must then decide whether to force the brother to have his hand reattached (considerations of well-being weighing heavily here) or to leave it off (considerations of meaningful living as I understand it weighing heavily in that direction). As I recall, he chooses not to compel his brother to have his hand reattached. In reflecting on your question today, Doug, I kept thinking of a line that I recall (hopefully correctly) from Chris Korsgaard's "Self Constitution in Plato and Kant": a bad (self) constitution is still a constitution--it is still the right sort of thing to enable action. As I'm thinking about meaningful living, an objectively bad set of ends deriving from a person's best judgment is still a set of ends and still the right sort of thing to make a person's life meaningful.

Daniel (apologies for this flurry--I'm trying to get caught up): I don't think that you are going to be able to explain the failure to give a meaningful gift case the way you do. Objectivists about meaningfulness are going to have to say that the more meaningful gift is the more objectively valuable gift. So even if my penchant for Fred Vargas mysteries tracks something worthwhile, the hypothetical Doug is right to think that it would be more objectively valuable for me to read philosophy instead, and that can be true even if he factors in things like the relative amounts of pleasure the two gifts would give. From an objectivist point of view, a meaningful gift as well as a meaningful life need not be meaningful to the person who receives the gift or lives the life.

Thanks for the interesting post! I'm curious about the motivation you articulated, at the end of your post, for wanting a philosophical account of meaningful living.

You said: "It seems to me that we want a conception of meaningful living in order to specify why the human capacity to set ends matters and why beneficence should take the form of adopting others’ ends as our own."

It struck me that this sounds a lot like a motivation to be interested in the idea of autonomy, at least on some conceptions of it. You might think the capacity to direct one's life and actions by one's own evaluative judgments, and to set one's ends as informed by these judgments, is constitutive of individual autonomy. And you might think this capacity matters in its own right, as reflected in the thought that its exercises are the sort of thing that liberal societies should want to protect. You might further think that at least part of why beneficence should (at least usually) take the form of adopting others' ends as our own, rather than imposing ends on others, is that beneficence towards a person ideally shouldn't come at the cost of violating that person's autonomy (because autonomy matters in its own right). I take it that Kantian conceptions of duties of beneficence (e.g. O'Neill's) are designed to be anti-paternalistic in this way.

Do you think that there is some important connection between autonomous living and meaningful living? I realize this question is pretty open-ended, so take it in whichever direction you wish! Thanks in advance.

Mark: I haven't forgotten your follow up comment.To say a bit more about what I meant when I said that 'meaningful life' turns out not to be a philosophically interesting notion on objectivist accounts. I did not mean to be saying that the account itself--for example the account of lives of positive significance that you are thinking of developing--is philosophically uninteresting. Rawls's account of oppressive social systems as ones that just are unjust social systems is plenty philosophically interesting. But then it doesn't much matter which term we use--oppressive or unjust, meaningful or (say) positively significant. This doesn't show that the objectivist is wrong in his or her approach. But it does raise the question of why the project is framed in terms of meaningful living rather than in terms of what this is being equated with.

Thank you for your response Cheshire. I didn’t want to suggest that the objective value of the gift is the *only* thing that matters with respect to the meaningfulness of the gift (or, by extension, that the objective value of one’s ends is the only thing that matters with respect to the meaningfulness of a life). I agree that a good gift should engage the recipient, and it is unlikely to do so if it doesn’t connect, in some way, to her interests and ends. I haven’t said anything about how these two elements (objective worth + engagement) – which are straight from Wolf – should go together. We might wonder: is it better (from the point of view of meaningfulness) to give a gift that is more objectively valuable but engages the recipient less (a philosophy book perhaps) than a gift that is less objectively valuable but engages the recipient more (the Vargas book perhaps)? I’m not sure what I want to say, except that I don’t think that, as an objectivist (if I understand what that means), I’m forced to say the former is more meaningful (and, by extension, I don’t think the objectivist is forced to say that a less engaged life in pursuit of more valuable ends is more meaningful than a more engaged life in pursuit of less valuable ends).

All I wanted to say was that being objectively valuable – or having some worth quite apart from the recipient’s interest in it – is a necessary condition for a gift’s meaningfulness. I can see that this might make for a weirdly uptight conception of what makes for meaningful gift-giving (a friend who is following this conversation has suggested as much!), but I don’t think it needs to be if we have a sufficiently broad conception of what things can be worthwhile.

I realize I'm at the back of the queue here for getting a response, so no worries at all if you're not able to get to it.

Hille: Yes, you have hit exactly on what I think I need to think more carefully about--the connection between meaningful living and autonomous living, and also the distinction between the two. It seems to me that individuals who are not capable of (fully) autonomous living will nevertheless be able to set ends and live meaningfully. In the discussion so far, this is exemplified in the examples of the moderately cognitively disabled and the schizophrenic brother. If you have suggestions for literature I should take a look at that would be great.

Daniel: As someone who once gave a tire to a (unsurprisingly) former partner for her birthday because I thought there were overwhelming good reasons concerning her well-being to do so, I will not think of you as having a weirdly uptight view of gift giving. The question you raise about how to decide between the more valuable/less cared about and the less valuable/more cared item illuminates a general concern I have with hybrid theories: Engagement and objective value looked to me such very different standards that it isn't clear that they offer a principled way of deciding between those two options. But perhaps there is some all things considered way of weighing these different sorts of considerations, such that sometimes degree of objective value wins out and sometimes degree of engagement wins out. So you are absolutely right that you, as a subscriber to a hybrid theory, are not forced to say in all cases that the objective value wins out. What you are forced to say, I think, is that the gift receiver's own assessment of the reasons there are for assigning one rather than another degree of objective value, and more generally, their own reasons for setting the ends they do are irrelevant to the question of what gift would be most meaningful (except insofar as she has privileged access to her degree of engagement). So once again, I might end up with that philosophy book instead of Vargas. I want to thank you for pursuing the meaningful gift thread. We use 'meaningful' in a variety of contexts, and it's useful to think about how our intuitions play out when we are thinking about meaningful gifts, meaningful apologies, meaningful work, and the like and not just about meaningful life.

Hi Cheshire,

First, thanks for the last response; sounds like your theory is capturing all I was talking about.

Second, if you don't mind my butting in on your exchange with Hille, I thought I would mention some interesting work you might look into if you have not already - namely, the work of religion scholars such as Elizabeth M. Bucar who write about feminist movements in Islam and Catholicism. Bucar talks about "creative conformatity" and her work might provide nice examples of people who chart meaningful lives without valuing or reaching liberal standards of autonomy (and who don't just lack the relevant capacities like the others you mention). Any way, if this sounds interesting and you have not already read relevant stuff, here is a reference to a paper that sketches Bucar's view and situates it in some related interesting literature: "Dianomy: Understanding Religious Women’s Moral Agency as Creative Conformity," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, September 2010, Vol. 78, No. 3, pp. 662–686

Thanks, Brad!

Hi Cheshire,

Sorry it took me ages to respond! I don't know anything about the literature on meaningfulness. But the following articles on autonomy might be helpful:

Westlund, A. 2009. Rethinking Relational Autonomy. Hypatia; as well as her 2003 Phil Review piece.

The conception of autonomy Westlund defends here strikes me as one that might resonate with you, but also sounds pretty similar to the view of meaningfulness that you want to defend. So this might be a good place to start trying to focus on what the differences between meaningfulness and autonomy might be. (Westlund's conception of autonomy is also somewhat similar to the conception of meaningfulness that Brad mentions in relation to Bucar -- or sounds like it; I haven't read the Bucar.)

Christman, J. 2005. Procedural Autonomy and Liberal Legitimacy. In Taylor. J. Ed. Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy

The main thing I find helpful in this piece is its suggestion that intuitions about whether some type of agency is "autonomous" or not aren't themselves decisive; instead, we need to judge a conception of autonomy based on its adequacy for the theoretical work we want it to do. E.g. a conception of autonomy that is crucial for some type of political liberalism might not be crucial in some other theoretical contexts. (E.g. maybe the sort of "autonomy" that is an intrinsic welfare benefit, if any, is different.) I find this suggestion helpful because, in reading through a lot of the literature on autonomy, one finds that authors have a variety of intuitions about whether some case exhibits autonomous behavior / autonomous living or not; and I myself find it hard to have clear intuitions about cases after a while. Anyway, you might find that perhaps there is *a* conception of autonomy that matches quite closely your conception of meaningfulness; but this doesn't mean that there aren't other, more demanding conceptions of (or types of?) autonomy that diverge from meaningfulness, and that are suited to theoretical roles that meaningfulness isn't suited to.

There is so much literature on autonomy, though, that this barely scratches the surface. Articles to definitely read, if you haven't already, that are also somewhat relevant to your concerns, would be Gary Watson's 1975 "Free Agency," and Susan Wolf's 1989 "Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility." I can send you more references via email if you'd like. But one more strand that might be worth mentioning here, on autonomy and cognitive incapacity. The following might be helpful:

Lillehammer, H. 2012. Autonomy, Value, and the First Person. In L. Radoilska, ed. Autonomy and Mental Disorder.

Distinguishes some different types of autonomy that we might attribute to people depending on their level of capacity; and discusses which type(s) we should respect.

Dworkin, R. 1993. Some of Ch. 8, "Life Past Reason," from the book Life's Dominion.

Shiffrin, S. 2004. Autonomy, Beneficence, and the Permanently Demented. In Burley, ed. Dworkin and His Critics. (This is a reply to Dworkin. There is also a reply to Shiffrin by Dworkin in this volume.)

I hope these help!

Thanks, Hille! I am particularly keen to read the Christman essay that raises the question of what theoretical work we want the concept of autonomy to do. This strikes me as the most promising approach in cases where there are so many different intuitions that pull in different directions. I appreciate your taking the time to put together a reading list for me that suits my project.

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