Brueckner and Fischer on the evil of death
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According to the Deprivation Approach, the evil of death is to be explained by the fact that death deprives us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had lived longer. But the Deprivation Approach confronts a problem first discussed by Lucretius. Late birth seems to deprive us of the goods we would have enjoyed if we had been born earlier. Yet no one is troubled by late birth. So it’s hard to see why we should be troubled by its temporal mirror image, early death. In a 1986 paper, Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer appealed to a version of Derek Parfit’s “Bias toward the Future”; they claimed that early death deprives us of future goods that we care about, while late birth deprives us of past goods that we don’t care about. In this paper I show that the Brueckner–Fischer principle is open to several possible interpretations, but that it does not solve the Lucretius problem no matter how we understand it.
KeywordsDeath Deprivation Approach Lucretius The mirror of time Symmetry problem Brueckner and Fischer Parfit Bias toward the future Asymmetry
My sincere thanks to Jens Johansson, Ben Bradley, Owen McLeod, Marcia McKelligan and Brad Skow for helpful comments on an earlier draft.
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