Brueckner and Fischer on the Evil of Death

Philosophia 40 (2):295-303 (2012)
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Abstract

A primary argument against the badness of death (known as the Symmetry Argument) appeals to an alleged symmetry between prenatal and posthumous nonexistence. The Symmetry Argument has posed a serious threat to those who hold that death is bad because it deprives us of life’s goods that would have been available had we died later. Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer develop an influential strategy to cope with the Symmetry Argument. In their attempt to break the symmetry, they claim that due to our preference of future experiential goods over past ones, posthumous nonexistence is bad for us, whereas prenatal nonexistence is not. Granting their presumption about our preference, however, it is questionable that prenatal nonexistence is not bad. This consideration does not necessarily indicate their defeat against the Symmetry Argument. I present a better response to the Symmetry Argument: the symmetry is broken, not because posthumous nonexistence is bad while prenatal nonexistence is not, but because (regardless as to whether prenatal nonexistence is bad) posthumous nonexistence is even worse

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