Ethical Realism

January 21, 2010

Is There A Meaning of Life? Free Ebook (Updated 6-26-10)

I updated many of my essays to create a free ebook that features my argument that there is a meaning of life (intrinsic values exist). The essays can be found on this website. It is still in the rough draft stage, but you might get something out of it. Read on to see the abstract.


This is a discussion that attempts to answer the question, “Is there a meaning of life?” This is a central moral question. If there is a meaning of life, then something “really matters” and we can find out what we ought to do. (Not everyone believes in a meaning of life. Some people are nihilists or relativists and think that value is a human creation.) I introduce the idea that the meaning of life requires “intrinsic value,” describe what it would mean for intrinsic value to exist, and argue that we have better reason to believe that intrinsic value exists than the opposite. I then defend intrinsic value from four objections.

Posts included in the ebook:

  1. Denying the Meaning of Life
  2. Mischaracterizations of “Intrinsic Value”
  3. What Does “Meaning of Life” Mean?
  4. What is Moral Realism?
  5. A Moral Realist Perspective
  6. A Moral Anti-Realist Perspective
  7. An Argument for Moral Realism
  8. Objections to Moral Realism Part 1: The Is/Ought Gap
  9. Objections to Moral Realism Part 2: Intuition is Unreliable
  10. Objections to Moral Realism art 3: Argument from Queerness
  11. Objections to Moral Realism Part 4: Moral Beliefs Can’t Motivate
  12. How to Find the Meaning of Life
  13. What is the Meaning of Life?

If you like this ebook, you might want to take a look at my older ebook, Contemporary Metaethics Part 1.

I also made a permanent webpage to put my ebooks, and I’ve updated my about page.


  1. […] Ebook Update Filed under: philosophy — James Gray @ 8:27 am I updated my free ebook, Is There A Meaning of Life? The changes were mostly minor grammatical errors, but I also added some links to some of my newer […]

    Pingback by Is There A Meaning of Life? Ebook Update « Ethical Realism — March 11, 2010 @ 8:29 am | Reply

  2. Don’t need to write so much. Sure there is a meaning of life. Check out at:

    Comment by perceptionofreality — June 5, 2010 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

    • I’m not going to download a plugin to watch the video. The idea of “meaning” that I am talking about is not just about feeling fulfilled or finding why God made us. I had to write so much about it because the simple answers religions offer are unconvincing to people. If religion can give a true answer, then we need evidence and that is what I care about.

      Comment by James Gray — June 5, 2010 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

      • There are no religion which can answer anything serious about the meaning of life. Even science nor philosophy can answer. The meaning of life is above the life itself. Everyone is seeking “light”/pleasure/fulfillment. Even (or mostly) people seeking the meaning of life. We are made of “will to receive” (pleasure). This is our basic matter…we are seeking pleasure (and running away from pain) at our every movement and thinking…Is there any ultimate pleasure in life?

        Comment by perceptionofreality — July 17, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

  3. […] The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism by Terance Cuneo Filed under: ethics,metaethics,philosophy,review — James Gray @ 8:29 am Tags: categorical reasons, error theory, expressivism, morality, nihilism, universal prescriptivism Many of my next posts will involve meta-ethics and moral realism. I define moral realism here. and moral realism is discussed in greater detail in my ebook, Is There A Meaning of Life? […]

    Pingback by The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism by Terance Cuneo « Ethical Realism — July 1, 2010 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  4. perceptionofreality,

    How do you know that pleasure and pain “don’t really matter?”

    How do you know that philosophers can’t answer the question? I think philosophers can answer this question pretty well.

    I don’t think the “meaning of life” has to be such a big deal. I think it’s a pretty ordinary and common sense issue. You seem to think it has to be big and transcend pleasure and pain. I see no reason it couldn’t include suffering (to be avoided) and happiness in addition to pleasure and pain (to be avoided).

    I already clarified how I see “meaning of life.” The meaning of the words “meaning of life” are ambiguous, but I have one specific definition. My definition is that they are intrinsic values to be sought and intrinsic disvalues to be avoided.

    If you are interested in how I think philosophers can help us understand intrinsic values, then you might be interested in my ebook (which is found above). If this ebook is inadequate, you can let me know. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

    Comment by James Gray — July 18, 2010 @ 6:23 am | Reply

  5. This is just Great! I’m having a debate with atheists about Meta-ethics. Your site is just what I needed… I’ve reached the limits of my arguments… pity I’m not a philosopher. I’m going to study your papers.

    Comment by Teralek — July 19, 2010 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for the compliment. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

      Comment by James Gray — July 19, 2010 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  6. […] A Moral Realist Point of View Free Ebook (PDF) Filed under: ethics,metaethics,philosophy — James Gray @ 7:01 pm Tags: ebook, intrinsic values, moral realism, pdf I have organized some of my essays (blog entries) to make a free ebook that tries to answer the question, How can a moral realist understand the world? It can be difficult to understand why moral realism is important unless we can see how it relates to our worldview, ethics, and our lives as a whole. This is a sequel to, Is There A Meaning of Life? […]

    Pingback by A Moral Realist Point of View Free Ebook (PDF) « Ethical Realism — September 26, 2010 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

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