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Meaning as a Distinct and Fundamental Value: Reply to Kershnar

Meaning as a Distinct and Fundamental Value: Reply to Kershnar

Thaddeus Metz

Department of Philosophy (B-602), University of Johannesburg, POB 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa; Email:


I am grateful to Stephen Kershnar for his thoughtful critical notice of my book, Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study (Metz 2013), published elsewhere in the current issue of this journal (2014). He provides a succinct and accurate overview of the book’s central conclusions, and, while being generous about its contribution to the field, also advances some penetrating criticisms of it that merit engagement. Specifically, Kershnar maintains, first, that I did not provide enough evidence that meaning in life is a genuine value-theoretic category as something distinct from and competing with, say, objective well-being, and, second, that, even if there were a value of meaning in life, my fundamentality theory of it would not capture its essence well. In this article, I reply to both of these criticisms, aiming to probe these underexplored issues still more deeply. I also contend that these two criticisms are in tension with each other; in order to contend that my theory of meaning is incorrect, Kershnar must draw on intuitions about the existence of meaning that undercut his suggestion that there is no such thing.


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Science, Religion and Culture


Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82


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