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A Defense of the Resonating Role Account of Meaning In Life

Gabriel Bruguier, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The primary contribution of this dissertation is the development and defense of a novel subjectivist account of meaning in life—the Resonating Role Account (RRA). I argue that ‘meaning in life’ is an evaluative phrase applied when a subject’s pursues a unique social and/or natural role well, when the role(s) resonate with her, and when they maintain a minimum balance of her attention. A defense of subjectivism over its competitors—objectivism and hybrid theory— is the second main contribution of the dissertation. These two theories are rejected on the grounds that they are not responsive to a subject’s central concerns. The arguments against objectivism center on the criticism that the theory entails that meaning is possible for subjects who are alienated by what they do. The main argument against hybrid theory is that it assumes an implausible view of subjects’ adopting valuing attitudes. For these reasons, and because a subjective account avoids such objections, a wholly subjectivist account of meaning is more plausible. Nonetheless, it is widely agreed upon that subjectivism has serious counterintuitive implications. My response is that these are confined to a simple version of the theory, and that RRA addresses those implications with the addition of a host of conditions: External condition (ExC) First, meaning must be evaluated externally, that is, through observational evidence that is inter-subjectively available. Second, ExC also claims that meaning is not dependent on any feelings caused by a subject’s projects/activities. Principled concern condition (PCC), only concerns related to the successful fulfillment of one’s natural role(s) or social role(s) are relevant for meaning. Resonance condition (RC), which states that a role must resonate with a subject for it to be one that confers meaning, where resonance is a connection that is compelling or attractive to some degree. Minimal balance condition (MBC), which states that one’s roles must maintain some minimal level of attention in order to continue to be meaning conferring. I argue that with the addition of these conditions, RRA effectively counters the major objections that plague simple subjectivism. Therefore, subjectivism is a defensible theory regarding meaning in life.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Bruguier, Gabriel, "A Defense of the Resonating Role Account of Meaning In Life" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI22623017.