How Does Death Harm the Deceased?

In John K. Davis (ed.), Ethics at the End of Life: New Issues and Arguments. New York: Routledge. pp. 29-46 (2017)
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The most popular philosophical account of how death can harm (or be bad for) the deceased is the deprivation account, according to which death is bad insofar as it deprives the deceased of goods that would have been enjoyed by that person had the person not died. In this paper, the author surveys four main challenges to the deprivation account: the No-Harm-Done Argument, the No-Subject Argument, the Timing Argument, and the Symmetry Argument. These challenges are often raised by Epicureans, who (following Epicurus) claim that death cannot harm the deceased, and each challenge is addressed in Thomas Nagel’s classic essay, “Death,” which has been very influential on recent developments in the literature on the philosophy of death. The author of this paper summarizes some of these recent developments as the challenges are considered.



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Taylor W. Cyr
Samford University

Citations of this work

Prenatal and Posthumous Nonexistence: Lucretius on the Harmlessness of Death.Taylor Cyr - 2021 - In Erin Dolgoy, Kimberly Hurd Hale & Bruce Peabody (eds.), Political Theory on Death and Dying. Routledge. pp. 111-120..

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References found in this work

Well-being and death.Ben Bradley - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
Some puzzles about the evil of death.Fred Feldman - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (2):205-227.

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