Death and Decline

Philosophical Quarterly 73 (1):248-257 (2022)
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In this paper, I investigate backward-looking accounts of death's badness. I begin by reviewing deprivationism—the standard, forward-looking account of death's badness. On deprivationism, death is bad for its victims when it deprives them of a good future. This account famously faces two problems—Lucretius’s symmetry problem and the preemption problem. This motivates turning to backward-looking accounts of death's badness on which death is bad for its victim (in a respect) when it involves a decline from a good life. I distinguish three different backward-looking accounts of death's badness in terms of decline, and I argue for the attractiveness of one in particular. I conclude by considering how the backward-looking consideration of decline might factor into our overall account of death's badness.

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Aaron Thieme
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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