AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Puzzling with nonexistence: can death be bad for the one who dies?

by KT Bavelaar

Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Year: 2016
Keywords: death; badness
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064273
Full text PDF: http://dspace.library.uu.nl:8080/handle/1874/326449


This paper raises the Epicurean question whether death can be bad for the one who dies and answers it affirmatively. It argues that there are inexperienceable harms with a distinct nature. Death constitutes such a harm in two ways: as an interruption of projects and as a loss of future experience (within a hedonistic framework). Death’s badness is understood as being narrative in nature: it involves articulation of badness beyond direct experience. The notion of losing something that is important to one provides a fruitful approach to construing such harms. An inexperienced change of narrative can be bad for a person because a person cares about this narrative. The paper also explores whether such changes in narrative can be bad without a notion of care. Throughout these explorations, it deals with objections to death’s badness, most notably the symmetry between prenatal and postmortem nonexistence. This objection is answered by reference to the structure of hedonistic value and the effects on our current biography if we would have been born earlier. Postmortem nonexistence, other than prenatal nonexistence, can be bad for the one who dies. Advisors/Committee Members: Philips, Jos.