If Nothing Matters

  title={If Nothing Matters},
  author={Guy Kahane},
Some of us, at some points in our lives, are struck by a vision of the universe as devoid of value. In such a state of mind, all human striving appears absurd, and the grandest achievements seem worthless. One feels that nothing matters. It is possible that such feelings have always been around, but they appear in their most acute form in the disenchanted modern era, with the rise of natural science and the decline of religious belief and traditional forms of life. Nietzsche famously announced… 

Is the Universe Indifferent? Should We Care

  • G. Kahane
  • Education
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
  • 2021
The scientific worldview is often claimed to reveal a universe chillingly indifferent to human suffering. But it’s un-clear what it means to describe the universe as indifferent, or what a non-

Does anything we do matter forever?

Abstract In this article, I consider the question of whether or not any action we perform matters forever. I distinguish two senses of mattering, which I call ‘relative’ and ‘non-relative’ mattering;

Can Pascal’s Wager Save Morality from Ockham’s Razor?

One version of moral error theory maintains that the central problem with morality is an ontological commitment to irreducible normativity. This paper argues that this version of error theory

What to do when the world doesn't play along: life after moral error theory

This work addresses the ‘what next?’ question for moral discourse, which concerns the best choice of action given the truth of the moral error theory. The moral error theory comprises two claims: (i)

How Human Life Could be Unintended but Meaningful: A Reply to Tartaglia

The question “What is the meaning of life?” is longstanding and important, but has been shunned by philosophers for decades. Instead, contemporary philosophers have focused on other questions, such

How to Use the Paradox of Hedonism

  • A. Dietz
  • Philosophy
    Journal of Moral Philosophy
  • 2021
The paradox of hedonism is the idea that intrinsically desiring nothing other than pleasure can prevent one from obtaining pleasure. In this article, I show how the paradox of hedonism can be used

The Neurobiology of Moral Decision-Making, Embodied Cognition and the Case of Tolerance

The supporters of embodied cognition propose a view on moral decision-making that is less of a computational and representational type, relying primarily on mental representations, and more of an enactive embodimenttype, relying on sensory-motor contingencies and habitual embodied intersubjective factors.

Melis Erdur’s Moral Argument Against Moral Realism

In a previous volume of this journal, Melis Erdur defends the provocative claim that postulating a stance-independent ground for morality constitutes a substantive moral mistake that is isomorphic to

How Is It That Anything Matters?: A Defense of Metaethical Constructivism Against Nihilism

................................................................................................................................ ii Acknowledgments

Hoping for Metanormative Realism

Debates in metaethics about metanormative realism, quasi-realism, anti-realism, and nihilism mostly focus on epistemic reasons for beliefs about values. Very little has been said about our practical



The view from nowhere

Human beings have the unique ability to view the world in a detached way: We can think about the world in terms that transcend our own experience or interest, and consider the world from a vantage


People often sincerely assert or judge one thing (for example, that all the races are intellectually equal) while at the same time being disposed to act in a way evidently quite contrary to the

Our Cosmic Insignificance

Worries about cosmic insignificance do not express metaethical worries about objectivity or nihilism, and it is possible to explain why the vastness of the universe can make us feel insignificant.

Objective and Unconditioned Value

A claim to objectivity about value is sometimes cast as a claim about the value something has in itself; independent of its relations to other things. Goodness is supposed to be "separate from"

Nothing Matters

Science is based on phenomena. The study of perception is no exception. Indeed, the original and still central meaning of `phenomena' involves perception, from the Greek phainesthai `to show'.

Ethical Intuitionism

North.—What is the trouble about moral facts? When someone denies that there is an objective moral order, or asserts that ethical propositions are pseudo-propositions, cannot I refute him (rather as

The Value Question in Metaphysics

  • G. Kahane
  • Philosophy
    Philosophy and phenomenological research
  • 2012
The aim of this paper is to distinguish these evaluative questions from related questions with which they can be confused, to identify structural constraints on their proper pursuit, and to address objections to their very coherence.

A world without values : essays on John Mackie's moral error theory

For centuries, certain moral philosophers have maintained that morality is an illusion, comparable to talking of ghosts or unicorns. These moral skeptics claim that the world simply doesn’t contain

Rejecting Ethical Deflationism*

One of the perennial challenges of ethical theory has been to provide an answer to a number of views that appear to undermine the importance of ethical questions. We may refer to such views

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century" (The New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world