Is Meaning in Life Constituted by Value or Intelligibility?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several authors have recently argued that intelligibility, rather than value, constitutes life’s meaning. In this paper I criticize the intelligibility view by offering examples of cases in which intelligibility and meaningfulness rates do not coincide. I show this for both meaning in life and meaning of life; under both naturalist and supernaturalist assumptions; and in ways relevant to subjectivists, objectivists, and hybridists. I show why the value view is not, in fact, vulnerable to several putative counterexamples to it, and I explain why, if value rather than intelligibility constitutes meaningfulness, there are so many cases in which intelligibility and meaningfulness rates do coincide. Finally, I explain why various arguments for the intelligibility view fail to show that it is advantageous to the value view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-234
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophical Papers
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 4 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier draft of this paper was read at the Central European University in Budapest on February 11, 2020. I am grateful to the audience for their helpful comments. I am also very grateful to Michael Antony, Ran Lanzet, Samuel Lebens, Saul Smilansky, Daniel Statman, Michele L. Waldinger, and two anonymous referees for Philosophical Papers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Editorial Board, Philosophical Papers.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Is Meaning in Life Constituted by Value or Intelligibility?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this