The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death
Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon Book Description

  1. Death has long been a pre-occupation of philosophers, and this is especially so today. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death collects 21 newly commissioned essays that cover current philosophical thinking of death-related topics across the entire range of the discipline.
  2. These include metaphysical topics – such as the nature of death, the possibility of an afterlife, the nature of persons, and how our thinking about time affects what we think about death – as well as axiological topics, such as whether death is bad for its victim, what makes it bad to die, what attitude it is fitting to take towards death, the possibility of posthumous harm, and the desirability of immortality.
  3. The contributors also explore the views of ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Epicurus on topics related to the philosophy of death, and questions in normative ethics, such as what makes killing wrong when it is wrong, and whether it is wrong to kill fetuses, non-human animals, combatants in war, and convicted murderers.

BOOK COMMENT:

Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (1 Sept. 2015)



"Belshaw (Christopher) - Death, Value, and Desire"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Bergstrom (Lars) - Death and Eternal Recurrence"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - Introduction: Philosophy of Death"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Broome (John) - The Badness of Death and the Goodness of Life"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Draper (Kai) - Death and Rationaal Emotion"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Feldman (Fred) - Death and the Disintegration of Personality"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Fischer (John Martin) - Immortality"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Gilmore (Cody) - When Do Things Die"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Hanser (Matthew) - The Wrongness of Killing and the Badness of Death"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Johansson (Jens) - The Timing Problem"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Kamm (F.M.) - The Morality of Killling in War: Some Traditional and Nontraditional Views"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Luper (Steven) - Retroactive Harms and Wrongs"

Source: Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death; ed. Ben Bradley, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson (OUP, 2015), pp. 317-335


Author’s Introduction
  • According to the immunity thesis, nothing that happens after we are dead harms or benefits us. It seems defensible on the following basis:
    1. If harmed (benefitted) by something, we incur the harm (benefit) at some time.
    2. So if harmed (benefitted) by a postmortem event, we incur the harm (benefit) while alive or at some other time.
    3. But if we incur the harm (benefit) while alive, backwards causation occurs.
    4. And if we incur the harm (benefit) at any other time, we incur it at a time when we do not exist.
    5. Yet nothing incurs harm (benefit) while nonexistent.
    6. And nothing is causally affected at one time by events that occur at a later time.
    7. So no postmortem event is ever bad (or good) for us (the immunity thesis).
  • Despite its plausibility, I mean to resist this argument. I will reject premise 1 on the grounds that dying may be atemporally bad for us. I will also reject premise 3. Some postmortem events are bad for some of us while we are alive. But I am not going to report some new exotic particle that makes backwards causation possible. As far as I know, 6 is true. If an event is responsible for a harm that we incur before the event itself occurs, it might be said to harm us retroactively; if when or after it occurs, it might be said to harm us proactively. My view is that some postmortem events harm us retroactively, but without backwards causation
  • Premise 6 is not the only thing worth retaining. I will salvage other bits of the argument for the immunity thesis, too, and put them to use in support of the claim that postmortem events do not harm anyone proactively. As I see things, postmortem events harm us retroactively or not at all.


COMMENT: See Web Link.



"Marquis (Don) - Abortion and Death"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Matthews (Gareth B.) - Death in Socrates, Plato & Aristotle"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Mitsis (Phillip) - When Death Is There, We Are Not: Epicurus on Pleasure and Death"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Norcross (Alastair) - The Significance of Death for Animals"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Olson (Eric) - The Person and the Corpse"

Source: Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death; ed. Ben Bradley, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson (OUP, 2015), pp. 80-96


Author’s Abstract
    What happens to us when we die, if there is no afterlife? We might cease to exist, or continue existing as corpses. The view that we become corpses is hard to defend, because it makes it hard to say what our identity over time could consist in. The view that we cease to exist is little better: it seems to imply that there are no such things as corpses. A satisfying metaphysics of death is elusive.

Sections
  1. The Person and the Corpse
  2. Pluralism
  3. Speaking of the Dead
  4. The Person/Body Argument
  5. The Essentialism Argument
  6. The Psychological-Continuity Argument
  7. The Dead-Animal Argument
  8. Animals and Corpses
  9. The Annihilationist’s Dilemma
  10. Animal Identity
  11. The Historic-Dependence Account
  12. Ttoubles for Historic Dependence
  13. Pluralism and Corpse Eliminitivism


COMMENT: Annotated printout in "Olson (Eric) - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 13 (Olson)". Web Link.



"Rosati (Connie S.) - The Makropulos Case Revisited: Reflections on Immortality and Agency"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Sider (Ted) - The Evil of Death - What Can Metaphysics Contribute"

Source: Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death; ed. Ben Bradley, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson (OUP, 2015), pp. 155-167


Author’s Introduction
  1. Will a clear view of what death is help us decide whether it is bad? Not necessarily. The discovery that death = X might instead affect our appraisal of X, leaving our appraisal of death untouched.
  2. Learning which quantum theory correctly describes human bodies would not affect anyone’s attitude toward his or her loved ones. On the other hand, a child’s discovery of the nature of meat (or an adult’s discovery of the nature of soylent green1) can have a great effect. In still other cases, it is hard to say how one would, or should, react to new information about the underlying nature of what we value — think of how mixed our reactions are to evidence of cultural determinism or atheism, or of how mixed our reactions would be to learning that we all live in the Matrix. (Maybe there is no objective fact about how we should react. Derek Parfit’s (1984, section 95) fear of death diminished when he became convinced of certain theses about the metaphysics of personal identity. Perhaps there is no objective fact of the matter as to whether this was rational; perhaps it was rational for him but would not be for others.)
  3. What can metaphysics contribute to the question of the evil of death? It cannot, on its own, settle the question, since there is no simple rule telling us how to adjust value in light of new information about underlying nature. Given a clear view of the nature of death, there will remain the question of its disvalue. However, metaphysics can help us attain this clear view. Moreover, a clear conception of what metaphysical positions do and don’t say, and a clear conception of how metaphysics works in general, can remove impediments to a rational appraisal of the evil of death.


COMMENT: See Web Link.




In-Page Footnotes ("Sider (Ted) - The Evil of Death - What Can Metaphysics Contribute")

Footnote 1: The food substitute from the eponymous film – see Web Link,Web Link etc.



"Sorensen (Roy) - The Symmetry Problem"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Tannsjo (Torbjorn) - Capital Punishment"

Source: Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) - The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death



"Zimmerman (Dean) - Personal Identity and the Survival of Death"

Source: Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death; ed. Ben Bradley, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson (OUP, 2015), pp. 97-153


Author’s Introduction
  1. The argument for a Protean criterion of identity (section 4), shall, I hope, be of interest to anyone who takes seriously the idea that we might persist by means of temporal parts. But, beyond the argument for Proteanism, the conclusions of the chapter will be of greatest interest to those who think there is, or may well be, a God. Most of today’s atheists are materialists; and the forms of survival-for-materialists that shall emerge require miraculous events. Furthermore, my conclusions about the prospects of survival-for-dualists provide little comfort for (that rare bird!) the dualist atheist. A person’s mental life evidently depends upon her possession of a living, healthy brain; so, even if she is an immaterial thinking thing, it seems unlikely that she could go on thinking after the destruction of that organ—barring, once again, some miracle. Without God in the picture, dualism by itself would not lead us to expect any very meaningful kind of survival of death.
  2. Some philosophers have taken materialism to be obviously true, and to be incompatible with our enjoying any kind of life after death—thus providing a knock-down argument against the existence of a good God who will right wrongs and explain the meaning of our earthly circumstances in the afterlife. If I am right, these arguments would fail, even if materialism were as obvious as many take it to be. So the chapter should interest atheists who make use of such arguments—however quaint they may find the supernatural machinery that I frequently wheel in.


COMMENT: Annotated printout in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 20 (X-Z)".



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