Epicurean Wills, Empty Hopes, and the Problem of Post Mortem Concern

Philosophical Papers 45 (1-2):289-315 (2016)
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Many Epicurean arguments for the claim that death is nothing to us depend on the ‘Experience Constraint’: the claim that something can only be good or bad for us if we experience it. However, Epicurus’ commitment to the Experience Constraint makes his attitude to will-writing puzzling. How can someone who accepts the Experience Constraint be motivated to bring about post mortem outcomes?We might think that an Epicurean will-writer could be pleased by the thought of his/her loved ones being provided for after his/her death. Warren has argued that this does not dissolve the puzzle, since it involves a hope which the Epicurean should take to be empty just as the fear of death is empty. However, if it is a necessary condition of an emotion’s being empty that it involve accepting a claim which is not only false but also harmful it is not clear that this hope is indeed ‘empty’: there is a crucial disanalogy between fearing death and hoping for the prosperity of one’s children here. And if emptiness does...

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Bill Wringe
Bilkent University


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