Is It a Wonderful Life? Frank Capra and Objective List Theories of Worth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aaron Smuts argues that the holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life should be understood as both an illustration and a cinematic vindication of objective list theories of worth. This article argues that he is right about the first point but wrong about the second. It’s a Wonderful Life is an excellent illustration of objective list theories. However, it also exposes a problem for them – their susceptibility to sceptical anxieties about whether we can know if our lives are worth living. More specifically, I argue that It’s a Wonderful Life shows how our lives are vulnerable to two sceptical anxieties, one arising from our potential inability to confirm our successes in promoting the good, the other from our potential inability to ascertain which goods can properly be said to be in our lives due to gaps in our self-knowledge and our potential for selfdeception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-261
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Philosophy

Cite this