Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Research Institute for Environmental Philosophy and Philosophical Anthropology, Osaka Prefecture University


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Defending the Purpose Theory of Meaning in Life

Jason Poettcker

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.5, No.3 (October 2015):180-207



In Meaning in Life (2013, Oxford University Press), Thaddeus Metz presents a robust and innovative naturalistic account of what makes an individual’s life objectively meaningful. Metz discusses six existing arguments for purpose theory of meaning in life and offers objections to each of these arguments. Purpose theory is “the view that one’s life is meaningful just insofar as one fulfills a purpose that God has assigned to one” (Metz, 2013a, p. 80). Metz also proposes a novel argument to undermine purpose theory by showing that it is inconsistent with the best argument for a God-centered theory of meaning. He argues that an infinite, immutable, simple, atemporal being could not be purposive or active. I aim to defend purpose theory against Metz’s arguments and objections by arguing that Metz’s novel argument against purpose theory fails. I argue that God need not have all these properties and that having these properties does not entail that God cannot be purposive or active. I also provide a new argument for purpose theory that addresses the concerns and inconsistencies that Metz finds with current versions of purpose theory. I conclude that purpose theory is not undermined.

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