Advertisement

The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 439–459 | Cite as

Five Tests for What Makes a Life Worth Living

  • Aaron SmutsEmail author
Article

Introduction

What makes a life worth living? This is not the same question as what makes a life good for the one who lives it.1 A theory that answers the latter question is a theory of well-being (i.e., “welfare” or “prudential value”). The two questions are clearly related and they are often conflated. But most likely worth is not strictly a matter of welfare, since one can live a life of great hardship and suffering that might nevertheless be worth living. Prima facie compelling examples abound: The proverbial soldier in a foxhole who throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades does not enhance his welfare. Far from it. But he does improve the worth of his life.

We should distinguish between (1) a life worth starting and (2) a life worth continuing. The phrase “a life worth living” is ambiguous.2It might mean either. Here, I am concerned with whether life is worth starting, not whether it is worth continuing. Clearly, throwing yourself on a grenade is not a great way to make...

Keywords

Objective Test General Extension Subjective Test Moral Worth Worth Living 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRhode Island CollegeProvidenceUSA

Personalised recommendations