Death and the Disintegration of Personality
Feldman (Fred)
Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Quite a few years ago, in another context and while thinking about other things, I said that I thought that there are some dead people. Not ghosts. Not restless spectres. Just corpses. I said that I thought that in typical cases people go on existing as corpses for a while after they die. I mentioned that a mummy might go on existing for quite a long time. A mummy would be a dead person, right?
  2. Some of my friends thought this was a totally crazy notion. They insisted that no mummy could be a person! No mouldering corpse could be a person! A corpse might be the left-over remains of a person, but it could not actually be a person.
  3. To avoid pointless conflict, I retreated to what I assumed would be a less provocative position. Instead of saying that there are dead people, I maintained merely that there are some dead things that formerly were people. In effect, I said that something could be a person for a while and then (around the time of its death) it could stop being a person but could go on existing as a corpse for a while. Or, if in ancient Egypt, for a long time.
  4. My friends then thought they had me cornered. My view was untenable. For I had admitted that when something that has been a person dies, it stops being a person. Surely I would have to agree that if a thing that has been a person stops being a person, it must go out of existence. No one can survive the loss of personality. Thus, I would have to admit that when a person dies, he or she goes out of existence.

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