The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 169–177 | Cite as

Punishing the Dead

  • Saul SmilanskyEmail author

On the assumption that life ends with death and that there is no afterlife, does morality end there as well? More specifically, when people morally deserve to be harmed, does the course of their lives set the limit for all attempts to harm them? The decision would depend, first, on whether the very idea of harming the dead, the metaphysics of harming the dead, makes sense. Second, if the idea of harming the dead makes sense, then deciding whether trying to do so is a good idea would depend on an ethical analysis of the considerations for and against doing so. Third, a positive reply to the first two questions would invite another moral and pragmatic investigation, to explore the best ways of harming the dead.

The first, metaphysical question, asking whether to harm the dead makes sense, has been the subject of extensive philosophical discussion (see, for example, Callahan [1]; Feinberg [2]; Nagel [3]; Partridge [4]; Pitcher [5]; Ridge [6]. The possibility of harming the dead has...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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