When Do Things Die
Gilmore (Cody)
Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Many different projects have been pursued under the heading "the definition of death." Those who pursue these projects differ in what they are trying to define and in what sense they are trying to define it. Some take their target to be a notion of death that applies only to human beings or only to persons. Some try to "define" their target merely in the epistemic sense of specifying a reliable and easily detectable mark or indicator of it.
  2. This chapter pursues a more general and metaphysical project. My central target will be dying, the concept (or property or relation) expressed by the verb "to die" as it occurs in sentences in the perfective aspect, such as "Mary died at midnight." I assume that this is a general biological concept that applies univocally across a wide range of entities, including human beings, cats, trees, bacteria, and individual cells (e.g., human skin cells) that are not organisms. These things all die, in the same sense of "die." My main concern in the chapter is not to define the word "die" or to analyze the concept it expresses. Rather, it's the project of giving informative, metaphysically necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing to die at a time.

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