Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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Affinity, Worth, and Fecundity
: On Susan Wolf’s Advice for Living a Meaningful Life

John Partridge

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.10, No.1 (July 2020):1-16




I examine Wolf’s hybrid theory of meaning in life and her recommendation of an important additional consideration for persons wishing to live meaningfully. Her advice is that we consider whether and to what extent our caring for something would create additional unique and transformative value. I call this fecundity. Wolf is correct to think that the prospect of fecundity matters to agents who wish to life meaningfully, though it is not a requirement on meaning like affinity and worth. Still the advice raises questions about her analysis. I pose the objectivists’ query about the necessity of the subjective “affinity” condition, but also argue that key elements of the affinity condition are better captured by an emotional state theory of happiness.

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