Is the Immortal Life Worth Living?
Wisnewski (J. Jeremy)
Source: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Aug., 2005) (pp. 27-36)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. John Martin Fischer has argued that Bernard Williams' account of the tedium of immortality is inadequate - that human agents could, in principle, bear the burden of immortality without falling prey to the necessary boredom Williams thinks accompanies prolonged life.
  2. Although Fischer offers several criticisms of Williams view of immortality, I will limit my discussion in this paper to one. It is my contention that an essential ambiguity concerning the term "boredom" pervades Williams' argument, and that it is this ambiguity, not Williams' argument, that makes his position susceptible to Fischer's objection.
  3. I will argue for an alternate reading of boredom that allows him to escape (one of) Fischer's objections. In the final portion of this paper I argue that, even if we grant Williams the use of "boredom" as a term of art, we can still criticize his claim that boredom (construed as an absence of categorical desires) is a necessary condition of the immortal life.
  4. Williams ignores the possibility of the new fulfilment of old categorical desires, and this possibility allows one to hold that boredom is not a necessary consequence of immortality, even if it is a probable one.


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