Social Groups and Meaning in Life


Philosophers of well-being have long understood the good life to relate to happiness and morality. At a minimum, to live a good life is to be happy and to fulfill what one owes to other people. Recent work on meaning in life has expanded this list of necessary conditions by contending that a life goes better on account of engaging with meaningful activities. In short, meaning contributes to well-being. Following this line of research, I argue for two claims: first, that recent work on meaning in life that focuses on individuals can naturally be scaled up to social groups and, second, that Margaret Gilbert’s notion of “joint commitment” helps make sense of the meaning of a group’s life.


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