Posthumous Harm
Keller (Simon)
Source: Luper - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death, 2014, Chapter 11
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Editor’s Introduction1

  1. In Chapter 11 Simon Keller discusses whether we may be harmed by events that happen after we are dead.
  2. He notes that different sorts of thing may contribute directly to our welfare, to how well our lives go. Among these are experiences; good experiences seem to boost our welfare, while bad experiences lower it. If experiences were the only constituents of welfare, then clearly posthumous events could not affect it at all. But it is plausible to say that welfare includes other elements, such as achievements.
  3. If that is right, then there is a strong case for the possibility of posthumous harm after all, since things that happen after we are gone may well affect whether we achieve goals we set ourselves, such as the goal of having a lasting reputation. So maybe one component of welfare - involving achievement - can be lowered (or raised) by posthumous events even though another component - involving positive experiences - cannot be.
  4. Keller goes on to point out that the two components differ in interesting ways. In particular, it might be that positive experiences contribute more to welfare than do achievements, and in that case it might be best not to allow our efforts2 to help the dead achieve their goals get in the way of our efforts to help the living enjoy positive (and avoid awful) experiences.


Book Chapter, but pdf downloaded from Cambridge Core. Filed in zip with full book.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Luper (Steven) - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death: Introduction".

Footnote 2: This sounds all well and good, but if – to make life easy for the living – we ostentatiously did away with the achievements of the dead – this might have a demoralising effect on the living and reduce the amount of effort they put into their projects, especially when it was clear that they themselves – say late on in their lives, or because of the incomprehension of their contemporaries – could not expect to enjoy any benefit in their lifetimes.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Sept 2020. Please address any comments on this page to File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page