Death, Pain and Time
Belshaw (Christopher)
Source: Philosophical Studies 97.3, 2000, pp. 317-341
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. Why do we want a later death, but not an earlier birth? Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, taking a lead from Derek Parfit, explain our asymmetrical attitude by way of an alleged parallel with our attitude to pain.
  2. According to Parfit1, we care about future pains, but not about past pains. Similarly, according to Brueckner and Fischer, we care about future pleasures but not past pleasures.
  3. I challenge these views. I agree that we are biased to the future where pleasures and pains are concerned, but we are not indifferent to the past. We do care about it.
  4. Indifference (or something like it) is needed, however, if the asymmetry is to be explained.

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