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The Interest-Impairment Theory

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

Abstract

In this chapter, I want to develop a comprehensive theory to account for: (1) the badness of the death event, (2) the badness of premature death, and (3) posthumous harms. For the purpose of this book, I will specifically address the justification of (1).

Keywords

Premature Death Fact Distinction Death Event Soft Fact Wide View 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Without any interest in Y, it is impossible for someone X to be harmed in virtue of any state of affairs concerning Y. In his article, ‘Harm and Self-Interest’, in Law, Morality and Society: Essays in Honour of H. L. A Hart, ed. P. M. S. Hacker and J. Raz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 302, Feinberg makes a similar claim: ‘It is only in virtue of having interests that people can be harmed...’ Accordingly, it is concluded that the notion of harm relies on the notion of interest. Similarly, John Kleinig admits the importance of the notion of interest for understanding the notion of harm. See John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 28.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), pp. 27–30.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 28.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Ibid.; and Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm and Self-Interest’, in Law, Morality and Society: Essays in Honour of H. L. A Hart, eds. P. M. S. Hacker and J. Raz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), pp. 285–286.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    In Chapter Two, Section Two, I offer more illustration of the inconsistency between the concept of objective interest and the concept of desire.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    It is not appropriate to explicate ‘harm’ as either the interference or the invasion of objective interests. For one thing, it is possible to interfere with or invade the objective interests of another without causing harm. Harm normally involves more than mere interference; it implies impairment. To impair something is to make it worse or cause it to deteriorate. See John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 32. For the remainder of this book I will use ‘interest’ to mean objective interest.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 178.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    In his book Social Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973), p. 26, Feinberg says, ‘... harm is conceived as the violation of one of a person’s interests...’ Also in his article ‘Harm and Self-Interest’, in Law, Morality and Society: Essays in Honour of H. L. A Hart, eds. P. M. S. Hacker and J. Raz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), pp. 285–299, he writes, ‘A person is [legally] harmed when someone invades (blocks or thwarts) one of his interests...’harm’ [is] a violation of an interest ...’Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm and Self-Interest’, in Law, Morality and Society: Essays in Honour of H. L. A Hart, eds. P. M. S. Hacker and J. Raz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), pp. 287–290.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    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
  11. 11.
    His reason for this claim is as follows: Notoriously, fulfilment of desire can fail to give satisfaction...Indeed, the occurrence of subjective satisfaction is a highly contingent and unreliable phenomenon. Sometimes when our goals are achieved, we do not experience much joy, but only fatigue and sadness, or an affective blankness. Some persons, perhaps, are disposed by temperament normally to receive their achievements in this unthrilled fashion...Not only can one have fulfilment without satisfaction; one can also have satisfaction of a want in the absence of its actual fulfilment, provided only that one is led to believe, falsely, that one’s want has been fulfilled...Similarly, one’s wants can be thwarted without causing frustration, or disappointment, and one can be quite discontented even when one’s wants have in fact been fulfilled. .. A perfectly genuine and well-considered goal may be thwarted without causing mental pain when the desirer has a placid temperament or a stoic philosophy...One can have feelings of frustration and disappointment caused by false beliefs that one’s wants have been thwarted, or by drugs and other manipulative techniques...Most persons will agree, I think, that the important thing is to get what they want, even if that causes no joy. The pleasure that normally attends want-fulfilment is a welcome dividend, but the object of our efforts is to fulfil our wants in the external world, not to bring about states of our own minds. Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 177–178.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 33.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See Ibid., p. 31. For a deeper understanding of the notion of well-being, see J. David Velleman, ‘Well-Being and Time’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993)Google Scholar
  14. 13a.
    Amartya Sen, ‘Well-Being and Freedom’, Journal of Philosophy 82 (1985), pp. 185–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 13b.
    John Bigelow, John Campbell, and Robert Pargetter, ‘Death and Well-Being’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1990), pp. 119–140Google Scholar
  16. 13c.
    and Michael A. Slote, Goods and Virtues (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 31.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 27.Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 29.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    Ibid., p. 28. Feinberg also thinks that the rationality of the notion ‘legal harm’ can be doubted. See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p.180.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    See John Kleinig, ‘Crime and the Concept of Harm’, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), p. 29.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Joel Feinberg, Social Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973), p. 30.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
  24. 21.
    To explain what ‘in the way we normally lived (before)’ means here, let us look back at John’s case in Chapter Three, Section Two. In that case, if I state, ‘The continuation of John’s life in the way he normally lived (before)...’, what I mean is: The continuation of John’s life in the way he lived before this car accident. This should be emphatically distinguished from ‘John’s continuation of his life in excruciating pain’.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of. Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 173–174.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    L. W. Sumner, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, Nous 10 (1976), pp. 161–162. It is still in dispute whether life itself (or being alive) is a good or not. Some philosophers argue that it is. Nagel, for example, says: ... it is good simply to be alive, even if one is undergoing terrible experiences. The situation is roughly this: There are elements which, if added to one’s experience, make life better; there are other elements which, if added to one’s experience, make life worse. But what remains when these are set aside is not merely neutral: it is emphatically positive.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 23a.
    ‘Death’, in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (London: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 2. By contrast, other philosophers argue that life itself is neutral. Feinberg, for instance, says: There is something bare minimal about it [life itself] on the one hand, yet something supremely important on the other. Apart from the interests it [life itself] serves, it has no value in itself... Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 174. See also L. W. Sumner, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, Nous 10 (1976), pp. 145–170. It is very important to resolve this dispute, particularly, when considering some issues about the choice between life and death from the utilitarian point of view. However, this is certainly not an easy task, and to do it is beyond the scope of this book. For the purpose of the discussion in this section only, it is enough to make sure merely that life is the precondition of a variety of goods.Google Scholar
  28. 24.
    John Bigelow, John Campbell, and Robert Pargetter also take this line of thought. They say, ‘For a longer life will be a life of greater global well-being provided that the life in the extended period has a satisfactory character’. See John Bigelow, John Campbell, and Robert Pargetter, ‘Death and Well-Being’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1990), p. 136.Google Scholar
  29. 25.
    In fact, in the interest-impairment theory of the harm of the death event, I have combined the deprivation theory and the interest-impairment principle. It is true that the deprivation theory has correctly identified an important element for explaining why death as an event (from a relatively wider view of the cause of death) can be a harm to the person who dies. However, the deprivation theory omits the essential characteristics of harm. Strictly speaking, what makes death events (from a relatively wider view of the causes of death) harms to us is not the deprivation of certain goods—the goods we would have enjoyed if we had not died, as the deprivation theory maintains. It is rather because death events (from a relatively wider view of the causes of death) deprive us of certain goods and these goods are in our interests. Similarly, it is not appropriate to say, ‘Death as an event is a harm to us because it thwarts all our (future-oriented) dependent unconditional desires’. It would be more accurate to say, ‘Death as an event is a harm to us because it thwarts all our (future-oriented) dependent unconditional desires and we all have an interest in not being thwarted in our desires’. After all, the thwarting of desires can sometimes be, on balance, good for us. Here, I am not claiming that the deprivation theory is incorrect. What I claim is that the deprivation theory can be improved. In short, I suggest that to make the deprivation theory more appropriate, it should be supplemented with the interest-impairment principle.Google Scholar
  30. 26.
    In a sense, the continuation of our lives is always in our interests. For the continuation of our lives would certainly extend our lives which is in our interests. However, in excruciating circumstances, the interest in extending our lives might be regarded as relatively very trivial or unimportant and thus ignored. After all, one of the essential reasons for a longer life is to enjoy it, not to suffer it.Google Scholar
  31. 27.
    Gisela Striker, ‘Commentary on Mitsis’, in Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 4, eds. John J. Cleary and Daniel C. Shartin (New York: University Press of America, 1988), p. 325.Google Scholar
  32. 28.
    Gisela Striker, ‘Commentary on Mitsis’, in Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 4, eds. John J. Cleary and Daniel C. Shartin (New York: University Press of America, 1988), pp. 325–326.Google Scholar
  33. 29.
    It seems to me that the notion ‘completeness’ is too vague to be used in this discussion. Particularly, it is not clear whether the notion ‘completeness’ has included the notion ‘duration’ or not. That is, it is uncertain whether or not ‘to live a complete life’ has already implied (or meant) ‘to live at least the normal lifespan of a human being’ . Indeed, it is doubtful whether it makes sense to say, ‘A person has lived a complete life even if he only had a short life span’. However, for a strategic reason, I will reluctantly use this term for the discussion later. I want to show that even if I accept Striker’s term, using her example, and following her line of reasoning, duration remains important in considering and evaluating the badness of premature death.Google Scholar
  34. 30.
    Again, for strategic reasons, I take her point concerning the notion of interest, which is roughly acceptable.Google Scholar
  35. 31.
    Gisela Striker, ‘Commentary on Mitsis’, in Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 4, eds. John J. Cleary and Daniel C. Shartin (New York: University Press of America, 1988), p. 327r.Google Scholar
  36. 32.
    Jeff McMahan, ‘Death and the Value of Life’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 254–256.Google Scholar
  37. 33.
    Joel Feinberg, Social Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973), p. 30.Google Scholar
  38. 34.
    Ernest Partridge, ‘Posthumous Interests and Posthumous Respect’, Ethics 91 (1981), pp. 243–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 35.
    See George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 160.Google Scholar
  40. 36.
    See George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 163.Google Scholar
  41. 37.
    See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 180–181.Google Scholar
  42. 38.
    See Ibid., p. 176. It should be emphasised that what I mean by ‘interest’ here and thereafter is the objective interest as illustrated in this chapter, Section One. However, what Feinberg means by ‘interest’ is different from what I mean which is inappropriately defined by (objective) desires. In his paper, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 177, he says, ‘As we have seen, interests are ... derived from and linked to [objective] wants ...’ And also, in ‘The Rights of Animals and Unborn Generations’, in Philosophical and Environmental Crisis, ed. William T. Blackstone (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974), pp. 52–53, he says, ‘Interests are compounded out of desires and aims. .. desires or wants are the materials interests are made of. ..’Google Scholar
  43. 39.
    See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 179.Google Scholar
  44. 40.
    See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 181.Google Scholar
  45. 41.
    Rosenbaum and Partridge, for example, both take the same line of argument to reject the possibility of posthumous harms. See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Harm of Killing: An Epicurean Perspective’, in Contemporary Essays on Greek Ideas: The Kilgore Festschrift, eds. Robert M. Baird, William F. Cooper, Elmer H. Duncan, and Stuart E. Rosenbaum (Waco: Baylor University Press: 1987), pp. 214–219; and Ernest Partridge, ‘Posthumous Interests and Posthumous Respect’, Ethics 91 (1981), pp. 246–253.Google Scholar
  46. 42.
    Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 183.Google Scholar
  47. 43.
    Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 176.Google Scholar
  48. 44.
    George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 161.Google Scholar
  49. 45.
    Ibid. Post-mortem person strictly speaking is an oxymoron, because all actual persons are living and therefore ante-mortem persons. It would be less misleading to talk of post-mortem individuals, but I have followed the misleading usage of Pitcher and Feinberg in my exposition.Google Scholar
  50. 46.
  51. 47.
    Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 183–184.Google Scholar
  52. 48.
    See George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 161.Google Scholar
  53. 49.
    Raymond A. Belliotti, ‘Do Dead Human Beings Have Rights?’, Personalist 60 (1979), p. 203.Google Scholar
  54. 50.
    Indeed, if death (being dead) is not a harm, then it would be implausible for us to claim that the death event (which brings about his death) is a harm. See Introduction, Assumption 4.Google Scholar
  55. 51.
    Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, for example, also defends this position. She says, ‘A harm must be a harm-to-someone; but if the dead are by definition extinct, they cannot be harmed by not existing.’ Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, ‘Fearing Death’, Philosophy 58 (1983), p. 175. Similarly, Mary Mothersill says: Here there seems to be a contradiction. Assuming, as Nagel assumes, that Smith’s death is a datable event, then, by definition, ‘Smith is dead at time t’ entails ‘there is no time t+n subsequent to t such that at t+n there exists an x and x=Smith.’...Nagel says flatly that it is the individual who has died that is unfortunate. According to a familiar theorem of predicate logic, the sentence ‘F of a’ (where ‘a’ is a constant) implies ‘There exists an x such that F of x and x=a.’ Nagel’s thesis, then, commits him to the following oddity: ‘There is a time, t, such that at t Smith is unfortunate and there exists no such person as Smith.’CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 51a.
    Mary Mothersill, ‘Death’, in Moral Problems: A Collection of Philosophical Essays, ed. James Rachels (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1975), p. 373.Google Scholar
  57. 52.
    As discussed above, clearly the well-being of a person’s heirs can be in his interests. And these interests can survive his death, and thus be frustrated posthumously. Of course, the subject of these interests, and thus the corresponding harms would be the ante-mortem person. Given this, to fully secure a person’s legal right, it might be the most reasonable way to devolve the properties of the deceased onto legal heirs (e.g. his son). Furthermore, a person can even decide to give all his property to a nursing home, but not to his own son. And this will is also protected by law. In a sense, my point can offer grounds for the common legal practice—devolving the properties of the deceased onto legal heirs. Thanks to the anonymous reviewer for emphaising this point.Google Scholar
  58. 53.
    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), pp. 198–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 55.
    Fred Feldman, ‘Some Puzzles about the Evil of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University 1993), p. 320.Google Scholar
  61. 56.
    Fred Feldman, ‘Some Puzzles about the Evil of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University 1993), p. 321.Google Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    ‘Death’, in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (London: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 7.Google Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), pp. 208–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 63.
    Grey offers another version—the ‘After Death’ proposal—which also claims that the subject of harm by death is the ante-mortem person. We might, at the first glance, naturally suspect the plausibility of this version. We might ask, ‘How can it be possible for a person to be harmed by death after his death? After all, P does not exist in any form at death and after. That is, there is no real subject of posthumous harms (and harm by death) left after his death.’ However, it seems to me that Grey tries to answer a different question from mine. The timing question he answers is, ‘When does the harm of death accrue?’ This question is totally different from the question, ‘ When does someone’s (P’s) being harmed by death occur?’ Perhaps, his question can be expressed as: When is the state of affairs that P was harmed by death made true from a third person perspective? Throughout this book, I want to focus on the solution to the missing subject problem raised by Epicurus. I therefore ignore Grey’s question about the timing of the accrual of harm. See William Grey, ‘Epicurus and the Harm of Death’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77, (1999), pp. 358–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 183–184Google Scholar
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    and George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 160–161.Google Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Ibid., p. 210; and John Martin Fischer, ‘Hard-Type Soft Facts’, Philosophical Review 95 (1986), pp. 593–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), pp. 204–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    For more discussion of what appears to be some rather troublesome implications of Feinberg’s theory, see W. J. Waluchow, “Feinberg’s Theory of ‘Preposthumous’ Harm”, Dialogue 25 (1986), pp.727–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 71.
    Marilyn Adams believes that a soft fact about a time is not fixed only by what is true at that time but refers as well to facts which obtain at later times. Joshua Hoffman and Gary Rosenkrantz take this point. However, they point out that according to Adams’ suggestion, no statement is a hard fact about any time T. John Martin Fischer asserts that there are hard-type soft fact and soft-type fact, and the two kinds of facts can both be fixed after later times. For discussions of hard/soft fact distinction, see Marilyn Adams, “Is the Existence of God a ‘Hard’ Fact?”, Philosophical Review 76 (1967), pp. 492–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    John Martin Fischer, ‘Freedom and Foreknowledge’, Philosophical Review 92 (1983), pp. 67–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Joshua Hoffman and Gary Rosenkrantz, ‘Hard and Soft Facts’, Philosophical Review 93 (1984), pp. 419–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    and John Martin Fischer, ‘Hard-Type Soft Facts’, Philosophical Review 95 (1986), pp. 591–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), p. 204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julian Lamont, ‘A Solution to the Puzzle of When Death Harms Its Victims’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998), pp. 204–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. 77.
    Some people might ask, ‘But when exactly does someone’s (P’s) being harmed by death occur?’ To this question, Feinberg offers a general answer: ‘At the moment he first acquired the interests that death defeats.’ I think that it might be very difficult (or even impossible) to decide when exactly he did acquire these interests. But I doubt, as Pitcher points out, that there is, for our purposes, any need to fix the precise time at which he first acquired these interests and hence to fix the precise time at which his being harmed by death occurred. Indeed, in support to the claim that the subject of ‘the harm of death’ and ‘posthumous harms’ is the ante-mortem person, it is rather enough to show, as I have done, that someone’s (P’s) being harmed by death or posthumous events occurs before his death. See Joel Feinberg, ‘Harm to Others’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 186Google Scholar
  87. 77a.
    and George Pitcher, ‘The Misfortunes of the Dead’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 167.Google Scholar
  88. 78.
    To simplify discussion, in this section I discuss only the issue: when is someone (P) harmed (if it is a harm) by his own death? But note that all my points about this issue can also be applied to the timing of the harm of someone’s (P’s) premature death. That is, I suggest that P’s being harmed by his premature death occurs before his death as well.Google Scholar
  89. 79.
    Chapter Four, Section Four is substantially based on my paper ‘Commentary on Lamont’s When Death Harms Its Victims’, A ustralasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1999), pp. 349–357. Thanks to Oxford University Press’s permission.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

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

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