Past and Future Non-Existence
- 543 Downloads
According to the “deprivation approach,” a person’s death is bad for her to the extent that it deprives her of goods. This approach faces the Lucretian problem that prenatal non-existence deprives us of goods just as much as death does, but does not seem bad at all. The two most prominent responses to this challenge—one of which is provided by Frederik Kaufman (inspired by Thomas Nagel) and the other by Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer—claim that prenatal non-existence is relevantly different from death. This paper criticizes these responses.
KeywordsBias towards the future Evil of death Deprivation approach Prenatal non-existence Symmetry argument
Many thanks to audiences at Lund University, the University of Gothenburg, and Uppsala University for their helpful comments on a distant ancestor of this paper.
- Brueckner, A.L., and J.M. Fischer. 1986. Why is death bad? Philosophical Studies 50:213–223. Reprinted in The metaphysics of death, ed. J. M. Fischer, 221–229, Stanford: Stanford UP, 1993.Google Scholar
- Brueckner, A.L., and J.M. Fischer. 1993b. Death’s badness. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74: 37–45.Google Scholar
- Feldman, F. 1992. Confrontations with the reaper. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fischer, J.M. 2006. Earlier birth and later death: Symmetry through thick and thin. In The good, the right, life, and death: Essays in honor of Fred Feldman, ed. R. Feldman, K. McDaniel, J. Raibley, and M. Zimmerman, 189–201. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Johansson, J. (2012). The timing problem. In Oxford handbook of philosophy and death, eds. B. Bradley, F. Feldman, and J. Johansson. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).Google Scholar
- Kaufman, F. 1999. Pre-vital and post-mortem non-existence. American Philosophical Quarterly 36: 1–19.Google Scholar
- Lucretius 1940. On the nature of things. In The Stoic and Epicurean philosophers, ed. W.J. Oates, transl. H.A.J. Munro, 69–219. New York: The Modern Library.Google Scholar
- Nagel, T. 1970. Death. Noûs 4: 73–80. Reprinted in T. Nagel, Mortal questions, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1979, and in The metaphysics of death, ed. J. M. Fischer, 59–70. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1993.Google Scholar
- Parfit, D. 1984. Reasons and persons. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Vander Laan, D. 2004. Counterpossibles and similarity. In Lewisian themes: The philosophy of David K. Lewis, eds. F. Jackson and G. Priest, 258–275. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Velleman, D. 1991. Well-being and time. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72:48–77. Reprinted in The metaphysics of death, ed. J. M. Fischer, 329–357, Stanford: Stanford UP, 1993.Google Scholar