The Misfortunes of the Dead
Pitcher (George)
Source: Fischer - The Metaphysics of Death
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. I assume, as most people nowadays do, that one's death means the permanent end not only of one's physical life, but also of one's conscious life. Death, so conceived, has its obvious drawbacks, but also its benefits; for the dead are at least free from pain, grief, despair, and other unpleasant sensations, moods, emotions, and so on.
  2. But we have conflicting intuitions on the question of whether the dead can be harmed, on the question of whether an event that occurs after a person's death can count as a misfortune for him. (I shall, throughout, use the terms "harm" and "misfortune" so as to render these two questions equivalent).
  3. In this paper, I want to defend the thesis that the dead can be harmed, and to explain how this can be, and is, so. (I think the dead can also be benefited, but I shall concentrate on the gloomy side of things.)
  4. First, however, I shall discuss a second thesis about the dead – namely, that they can be wronged. ("To wrong someone" will be used as a generic term to cover such actions as being unjust to someone, maligning or slandering someone, betraying someone's trust, and so on.)


Originally published in American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1984), pp. 183-188

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