What Matters in the Mirror of Time: Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails

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

Abstract

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.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 83,878

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Brueckner and Fischer on the Evil of Death.Huiyuhl Yi - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (2):295-303.
Playing the Odds: A New Response to Lucretius's Symmetry Argument.Jeremy R. Simon - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 18 (3):414-424.
Yet Another “Epicurean” Argument.Peter Finocchiaro & Meghan Sullivan - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):135-159.
Fear of Death and the Symmetry Argument.Gal Yehezkel - 2016 - Manuscrito 39 (4):279-296.
Kaufman's response to Lucretius.Jens Johansson - 2008 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (4):470-485.
The symmetry argument: Lucretius against the fear of death.Stephen E. Rosenbaum - 1989 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (2):353-373.

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-12-03

Downloads
140 (#104,937)

6 months
3 (#245,275)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lukas J. Meier
Cambridge University

References found in this work

Philosophical explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Mind 93 (371):450-455.
Death and the Afterlife.Samuel Scheffler - 2013 - New York, NY: Oup Usa. Edited by Niko Kolodny.

View all 9 references / Add more references