Immortality, Identity, and Desirability

In Michael Cholbi (ed.), Immortality and the Philosophy of Death. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 191-203 (2015)
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Williams’s famous argument against immortality rests on the idea that immortality cannot be desirable, at least for human beings, and his contention has spawned a cottage industry of responses. As I will intend to show, the arguments over his view rest on both a difference of temperament and a difference in the sense of desire being used. The former concerns a difference in whether one takes a forward-looking or a backward-looking perspective on personal identity; the latter a distinction between our normal desire to continue living and the kind of desire implied in desiring immortality. Showing that there is some sense of identity and desire that support Williams’s conclusion goes some way toward providing support for his argument, if not a full-fledged defense of it.
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