The Badness of Death and the Goodness of Life
Broome (John)
Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. What harm does death do you? To put the question differently: when you die, what do you lose by dying? To put it differently again: when you do not die, what do you gain by continuing to live? The question of what harm death does you is the same as the question of what good is done you by living. It is the question of the goodness of your life.
  2. Two extreme answers can be given. One is “everything”; we might think that, for you, your life is everything, and by dying you lose everything. Another is “nothing”; we might think that you lose nothing by dying. I shall start by rejecting these extreme answers. Then I shall go on to the moderate, quantitative answer that I favor.

Author’s Conclusion
  1. When you die, what you lose is neither nothing nor everything. It is the rest of your life. The badness of this loss is, seen differently, the goodness of rest of your life. More accurately, it is the difference between the goodness of the longer life you would have led, had you survived, and the shorter life you do lead. So the question of how bad is death transmutes into the question of how good is life.
  2. I have not tried to answer this latter question, but I have outlined and classified some of the answers that are available.


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