Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):651-660 (2019)

Lukas J. Meier
Cambridge University
abstractBy appealing to the similarity between pre-vital and post-mortem nonexistence, Lucretius famously tried to show that our anxiety about death was irrational. His so-called Symmetry Argument has been attacked in various ways, but all of these strategies are themselves problematic. In this paper, I propose a new approach to undermining the argument: when Parfit’s distinction between identity and what matters is applied, not diachronically but across possible worlds, the alleged symmetry can be broken. Although the pre-vital and posthumous time spans that we could have experienced are indeed analogous with respect to our identity, they are not analogous with respect to psychological continuity, which forms the basis of prudential concern. Lucretius even anticipated the Parfitian distinction. He did not, however, notice the significance that it has for his Symmetry Argument.
Keywords Lucretius  Parfit  symmetry argument  fear of death  badness of death  personal identity  what matters in survival  possible worlds  death and dying  diachronic identity
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Reprint years 2018, 2019
DOI 10.1080/00048402.2018.1540015
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Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Mind 93 (371):450-455.

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Citations of this work BETA

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Death, Deprivation, and a Sartrean Account of Horror.Frederik Kaufman - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):335-349.

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