Death and the Value of Life
McMahan (Jeff)
Source: Fischer - The Metaphysics of Death
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Among the services that philosophers have traditionally attempted to provide is the manufacture of arguments intended to show that death is not or cannot be bad for those to whom it happens.
  2. In the first section of this paper I will contend that the most influential of these arguments fails to establish the conclusions which its defenders have sought from it.
  3. I will then devote the bulk of the paper to developing an account of why it is that death can be bad for those who die.
  4. Finally, I will sketch an apparent paradox which threatens this account and conclude by proposing a way of dissolving the paradox.

  1. The Epicurean Argument
    • 1.1 The Existence Requirement and the Wide and Narrow Experience Requirements
    • 1.2 The Reconciliation Strategy
    • 1.3 The Existence Requirement
  2. The Badness of Death
    • 2.1 What Death Deprives Us Of
      … 2.1.1 Counterfactual Conditionals and the Problem of Specifying the Antecedent
      … 2.1.2 The Problem of Causal Overdetermination
      … 2.1.3 A Proposal
      … 2.1.4 Deprivation of Future Goods and the Global Evaluation of Lives
    • 2.2 Death and the Degree of Psychological Connectedness1
    • 2.3 The Revised Possible Goods Account
  3. A Paradox


Originally published in Ethics, Vol. 99, No. 1 (Oct., 1988), pp. 32-61

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