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Owen Flanagan's The Really Hard Problem provides a rich source of reflection on the question of meaning and ethics within the context of philosophical naturalism. I affirm the title's claim that the quest to find meaning in a purely physical universe is indeed a hard problem by addressing three issues: Flanagan's claim that there can be a scientific/empirical theory of ethics (eudaimonics), that ethics requires moral glue, and whether, in the end, Flanagan solves the hard problem. I suggest that he does not, although he provides much that is of importance and useful for further reflection along the way.

Keywords: Owen Flanagan; ethics; naturalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at South Dakota State University and Program Coordinator of the Philosophy and Religion Department, Box 504 Scobey 336, SDSU, Brookings, SD 57007;, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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