Contribution, Replaceability and the Meaning of Our Lives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I explore some surprising results concerning positive individual contributions, focusing on those made in one's job or in the position one holds. The replaceability of most people on the job or in positions of influence threatens our common sense notion of contribution. Two concepts of contribution are distinguished, and help to limit the sense of paradox, but do not completely eliminate it. The ideal of making a contribution that would not be done were one not to do it is seen as both highly threatening and potentially very important for acquiring meaning in one's life. Finally, some hazards of our conclusions are seen to lead to thoughts about the dangers of open disclosure.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1481-1496
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • contribution
  • meaning in life
  • meaning of life
  • replaceability
  • work

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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