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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The Relational Account of Meaning in Life
: A Critique

Joshua Chang and Michelle Pitassi

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.10, No.1 (July 2020):58-77




The relational account by Robert Nozick (1981; 1989) posits meaning as engaged, external connection to an array of value, and it has been widely influential in debates concerning life’s meaning. Thaddeus Metz (2001; 2013; 2016) proffers several counterexamples to the view, arguing that it does not best account for what is conceptually important to meaning in life. We evaluate these criticisms, determining that while some objections are less persuasive, others are more compelling, particularly Metz’s subjectivist critique which we go on to expand in developing a novel counterexample to the relational view. We conclude with positing another final counterexample—a being who accrues meaning in life solely through internal relations.

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