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The Worthwhileness of Meaningful Lives

  • David MathesonEmail author


The M → W thesis that a meaningful life must be a worthwhile life follows from an appealing approach to the axiology of life. Yet one of the most prominent voices in the recent philosophy of life literature, Thaddeus Metz, has raised multiple objections to that thesis. With a view to preserving the appeal of the axiological approach from which it follows, I here defend the M → W thesis from Metz’s objections. My defense yields some interesting insights about both a meaningful life and a worthwhile life: (i) a meaningful life should be firmly distinguished from a life with meaning, (ii) the value of a meaningful life must outweigh whatever disvalue the life has, (iii) a worthwhile life at a given time needn’t be a life worth continuing at that time, and (iv) the M → W thesis doesn’t preclude the possibility of something being part of what constitutes the meaningfulness of a life without also being part of what constitutes the worthwhileness of the life.


Axiology Good life Worthwhile life Meaningful life Meaning Final value Disvalue 



For their helpful feedback on earlier versions of this article, I am indebted to Andrew Brook, Jordon Dodd, anonymous referees for this journal, and audiences at both a Canadian Philosophical Association annual meeting and a Carleton University Department of Philosophy colloquium. I am especially indebted to Metz for his helpful feedback; his generosity of spirit in helping me significantly improve a piece that is critical of some of his own work has been very much appreciated.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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