The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 507–530 | Cite as

Understanding “Meaning of life” in Terms of Reasons for Action

  • Tatjana VišakEmail author


Thaddeus Metz explains in his Stanford Encyclopedia entry on “The Meaning of Life” that when the topic of the meaning of life comes up, people often pose one of two questions. They ask: “So, what is the meaning of life?” or “What are you talking about?” The literature, Metz says, can be divided in terms of which question it seeks to answer. In his entry, Metz’s focus is clearly on the first, substantive, question, while he only briefly discusses the meaningof the meaning question. One might think that Metz covers this abstract question quickly and then moves on to the substantive question, because it is fairly clear how the question about the meaning of life is to be understood. This, however, is not the case. Metz’s brief overview of attempts to understand the meaning of the question shows that nobody has been able so far to identify a single, primary sense of “life’s meaning”. Therefore Metz considers it highly unlikely that those who are telling us what the meaning of...


Objectivist Theory Subjectivist Account Individual Life Normative Reason Meaningful Life 
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I thank Roger Crisp and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Business EthicsMannheim UniversityMannheimGermany

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