Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 137–149 | Cite as

Can the Dead be Brought into Disrepute?

  • Malin MastertonEmail author
  • Mats G. Hansson
  • Anna T. Höglund
  • Gert Helgesson


Queen Christina of Sweden was unconventional in her time, leading to hypotheses on her gender and possible hermaphroditic nature. If genetic analysis can substantiate the latter claim, could this bring the queen into disrepute 300 years after her death? Joan C. Callahan has argued that if a reputation changes, this constitutes a change only in the group of people changing their views and not in the person whose reputation it is. Is this so?

This paper analyses what constitutes change and draws out the implications to the reputation of the dead. It is argued that a reputation is a relational property which can go through changes. The change is “real” for the group changing their views on Queen Christina and of a Cambridge kind for the long dead queen herself. Cambridge changes result in new properties being acquired, some of which can be of significance.

Although the dead cannot go through any non-relational changes, it is possible for the dead to change properties through Cambridge changes. In this sense changes in reputation do affect the dead, and thus Queen Christina can acquire a new property, in this case possibly a worse reputation.


Callahan, Joan C. Cambridge change posthumous change relational change relational properties 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Callahan J.C. “On Harming The Dead.” Ethics 97 (1987): 341–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fant Å. Hilma af Klint. Stockholm: Raster Förlag, (1989).Google Scholar
  3. Geach P. God And The Soul. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, (1969).Google Scholar
  4. Humberstone I.L. “Intrinsic/Extrinsic.” Synthese 108 (1996): 205–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lombard L.B. “Relational Change and Relational Changes.” Philosophical Studies 34 (1978): 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Masterton M., G. Helgesson, A.T. Höglund, and M.G. Hansson. “Queen Christina’s moral claim on the living: Justification of a tenacious moral intuition.” Medicine, Health Care & Philosophy published online (2007): February.Google Scholar
  7. Plaisted D. Leibniz on Purely Extrinsic Denominations. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, Ltd, (2002).Google Scholar
  8. Ruben D.H. “A Puzzle About Posthumous Predication.” Philosophical Review 97 (1988): 211–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Stolpe S. Drottning Kristina. Stockholm: Askild & Kärnekull, (1982).Google Scholar
  10. Weberman D. “Cambridge Changes Revisited: Why Certain Relational Changes Are Indispensable.” Dialectica 53 (1999): 139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malin Masterton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mats G. Hansson
    • 1
  • Anna T. Höglund
    • 1
  • Gert Helgesson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department for Public Health and Caring SciencesCentre for Bioethics at Uppsala University & Karolinska InstitutetUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations