Epicureanism and Skepticism about Practical Reason

Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-14 (forthcoming)
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Epicureans believe that death cannot harm the one who dies because they hold the existence condition, which states that a subject is able to be harmed only while they exist. I show that on one reading of this condition death can, in fact, make the deceased worse off because it is satisfied by the deprivation account of death’s badness. I argue that the most plausible Epicurean view holds the antimodal existence condition, according to which no merely possible state of affairs can be good or bad relative to the subject who dies. I go on to show how this condition, as well as any other condition that denies the deprivation account, results in skepticism about practical reason. Thus, the Epicurean faces a dilemma. Either our practical reasoning is hopelessly mistaken or death can make us worse off. Given that our practical reasoning seems at least mildly reliable, we should conclude that death can make us worse off.
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