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The Desire-thwarting Theory

Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 73)

Abstract

This chapter is concerned with the questions: Is the desire-thwarting theory acceptable? If not, why? Let me outline this theory first.

Keywords

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Notes

  1. 1.
    I know the notion of desire and the notion of wish are different in a strict sense. To simply our discussion, 1, following most desire-thwarting theorists, use ‘desire’ to mean: desire, want, or wish.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Steven Luper-Foy, ‘Annihilation’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 270–271.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    ‘The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality’, in Bernard Williams, Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 85.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Ibid., pp. 85–86.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Steven Luper-Foy, ‘Annihilation’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 276.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    ‘The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality’, in Bernard Williams, Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 85.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    ‘Introduction: Death, Metaphysics, and Morality’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 16.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See Steven Luper-Foy, ‘Annihilation’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 276.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See ‘The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality’, in Bernard Williams, Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 87. Ruth Cigman also sheds a light on this point by comparing ‘the death of a person’ (which is a misfortune) with ‘the death of an animal’ (which, she argues, is not a misfortune because animals cannot have categorical desires). See Ruth Cigman, ‘Death, Misfortune and Species Inequality’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (1981), pp. 47–64.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Steven Luper-Foy, ‘Annihilation’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 275.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
    ‘Introduction: Death, Metaphysics, and Morality’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 17.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    In some very special circumstances, it is possible for someone to have no unconditional desires, and, thus, (2) might be challenged. However, for most healthy people, in most circumstances, the death (event) does thwart certain kind(s) of their unconditional desires. Thus, (2) can be generally accepted. In short, (2) is not the essential problem in the desire-thwarting argument. To respond to this challenge, we at most need to have a slight modification for the desire-thwarting argument as follows: (i) Something is a harm or misfortune for us if it thwarts any of our desires. (ii) Death is a harm or misfortune for us, if it thwarts certain kind(s) of our unconditional desires. Even (2) is understood in this way, I would say that the desire-thwarting theory is still seriously flawed. See ‘Introduction: Death, Metaphysics, and Morality’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p.18.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p.177. The distinction between fulfilment and satisfaction was made originally by W. D. Ross, Foundations of Ethics (Oxford: Clarendon, 1939), p. 300.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p.177.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
  17. 17.
    Ibid., p. 178.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
  19. 19.
  20. 20.
    Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, relevant passage in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 202.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘Epicurus and Annihilation’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p.300.Google Scholar
  22. 22.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Fooyin Institute of TechnologyTaiwan

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