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The Lucretian Symmetry Argument

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

Abstract

In this chapter, I will reject the Lucretian symmetry argument by criticising some proposals from recent philosophers. To achieve this, let me explicate the Lucretian symmetry argument first.

Keywords

Actual World Personal Identity Standard Interpretation Prenatal Nonexistence Recent Philosopher 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For a discussion of Lucretius’ philosophical background, see Ronald E. Latham, ‘Lucretius’, in Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 5, ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 99–101.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, trans. H. A. J. Munro, in The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers, ed. Whitney Jennings Oates (New York: Modern Library, 1957), p. 131. This elliptical argument has appealed to diverse philosophers throughout western philosophical history, such as Pseudo-Plato, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, Montaigne, Hume, and Schopenhauer. See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), fn. 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. Walter Glannon, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), p. 235.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), pp. 359–360. Some philosophers, such as David Furley, believe that the Lucretian symmetry argument is not at all directed to showing that it is not rational to fear death (as Rosenbaum’s reconstruction of the Lucretian symmetry argument shows), but is rather used to reinforce the conclusion that nothing is good or bad for one who is dead. If they are correct in this point, then Feldman’s reconstruction of the Lucretian symmetry argument would be more appropriate than Rosenbaum’s. However, I think that Rosenbaum has offered enough evidence to show that the Lucretian symmetry argument is directed against death anxiety during one’s life. Even if Rosenbaum is wrong on this point, it is still appropriate for me to take his reconstruction of the Lucretian symmetry argument. For I will, in the following discussion focus mainly on premise (2) of Rosenbaum’s reconstruction of the Lucretian symmetry argument. Premise (2) is essentially used to show that nothing is good or bad for one who is dead. That is, I can still grasp the point Furley makes about the Lucretian symmetry argument. See David Furley, ‘Nothing to Us’, in The Norms of Nature: Studies in Hellenistic Ethics, eds. Malcolm Schofield and Gisela Striker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 76–77; and Fred Feldman, ‘F. M. Kamm and the Mirror of Time’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1990), p. 23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    See ‘The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality’, in Bernard Williams, Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 82.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), pp. 356–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    In claiming that death is a harm, I am claiming that in general death is a harm. It may be that in particular circumstances death is a good thing, all things considered. Since this point has already been addressed, I am ignoring this possibility for the present discussion.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Temporal attitude symmetry (or asymmetry) is very different from temporal value symmetry (or asymmetry). Unfortunately, Glannon assimilates these two throughout his paper, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), pp. 235–236. In the introduction to this paper, Glannon points out that Nagel and other philosophers who adopt his view of death have raised an argument advocating temporal value asymmetry. Conversely, he claims, the Lucretian symmetry argument supports temporal value symmetry. Glannon believes that neither is sound. He therefore suggests a different temporal asymmetry argument. Apparently, the purpose of this paper is to suggest a temporal asymmetry argument to show a new temporal value asymmetry. However, while starting proceeding the text, he shifts the focus from temporal value asymmetry to temporal attitude asymmetry (by using the term ‘asymmetrical rational concern’). But by the end of his paper, Glannon concludes all his discussion with a temporal asymmetry argument. The premise (2) of this argument the asymmetry thesis is undoubtedly the heart of this argument, and is completely concerning temporal value asymmetry. Given this, I would interpret Glannon’s discussion in this paper as follows. Glannon not only tries to suggest a temporal attitude asymmetry, but most importantly, also, as Fischer suggests, wants to explore a new temporal value asymmetry: Since we can (while we are alive) have unpleasant experiences as a result of things that happen in the prenatal environment, but we cannot have bad experiences after we are dead; prenatal nonexistence can be bad for an individual, but death is not. See John Martin Fischer, ‘Death, Badness, and the Impossibility of Experience’, Journal of Ethics 1 (1997), p. 351.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Walter Glannon, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), p. 238.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., p. 236. This quotation is originally from McMahan. See Jeff McMahan, ‘Death and the Value of Life’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 234.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Walter Glannon, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), p. 238. For a more detailed understanding of the notion of the Existence Requirement, see Chapter One, Section Two.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See Walter Glannon, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), p. 239.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
  14. 14.
    Walter Glannon, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), p. 240.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Walter Glannon, ‘Temporal Asymmetry, Life, and Death’, American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1994), p. 242.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See Fred Feldman, ‘Some Puzzles about the Evil of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 308Google Scholar
  17. 16a.
    and Harry S. Silverstein, ‘The Evil of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 98.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’ in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 222.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    See Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’ in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 222–223.Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’ in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 223–224.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, relevant passage in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 193–194.Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 224. Rosenbaum also argues that Parfit’s version of the bias toward the future confuses ‘preference’ and such emotions as ‘fear’ and ‘anxiety’ . I do not want to discuss this issue here.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), pp. 364–365 and fn.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 22.
    Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), p. 365.Google Scholar
  25. 23.
    Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), p. 364.Google Scholar
  26. 24.
    See Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 227.Google Scholar
  27. 25.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 227Google Scholar
  28. 26.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 228.Google Scholar
  29. 27.
  30. 28.
    Apparently, Parfit adopts the Prenatal-and-Posthumous harm approach. He writes: ... we are biased towards the future. Because we have this bias, the bare knowledge that we once suffered may not now disturb us. But our equanimity does not show that our past suffering was not bad. The same could be true of our past non-existence... (My emphasis.) Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, relevant passage in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 205–206. This point is supported by Frances Myrna Kamm as well. She says: ... the Parfitian solution to the asymmetry problem presupposes that what happened in the past through prenatal nonexistence was just as bad for the person as what will happen because of his death in the future. .. This explanation of our asymmetrical attitudes does not claim that death is worse than prenatal nonexistence because we care more about it. (My emphasis.)Google Scholar
  31. 28a.
    Frances Myrna Kamm, Morality, Mortality: Death and Whom to Save from It, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 28. Kaufman also makes the same point as Kamm. He says: In contemporary philosophical discussions about death there are two lines of responses to the symmetry argument. One. ..[is] initially proposed by Nagel. .. The second kind of response originated with Derek Parfit. .. on Parfit’s view, our past non-existence might be bad after all, since it deprives us of good experiences, but we don’t mind that. (My emphasis.)Google Scholar
  32. 28b.
    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Pre-Vital and Post-Mortem Non-Existence’, American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (1999), pp. 5–7.Google Scholar
  33. 29.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 228.Google Scholar
  34. 30.
    See Ishtiyaque Haji, ‘Pre-Vital and Post-Vital Times’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1991), p. 173.Google Scholar
  35. 31.
  36. 32.
    Although Nagel adopts the deprivation theory, he does not believe that prenatal nonexistence (or not being born earlier) is a deprivation of the goods of life. Thus, according to him, prenatal nonexistence is not a harm. I will discuss this below.Google Scholar
  37. 33.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘The Asymmetry of Early Death and Late Birth’, Philosophical Studies 71 (1993), p. 330.Google Scholar
  38. 34.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 228.Google Scholar
  39. 35.
    See Ishtiyaque Haji, ‘Pre-Vital and Post-Vital Times’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1991), p. 175.Google Scholar
  40. 36.
    See Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Death’s Badness’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1993), p. 38.Google Scholar
  41. 37.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Death’s Badness’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1993), p. 40.Google Scholar
  42. 38.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Death’s Badness’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1993), p. 41.Google Scholar
  43. 39.
    Even if Brueckner and Fischer do adopt subjectivism, it seems that they still confront some difficulties. See Ishtiyaque Haji, ‘Pre-Vital and Post-Vital Times’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1991), pp. 176–177.Google Scholar
  44. 40.
    Ishtiyaque Haji, ‘Pre-Vital and Post-Vital Times’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1991) p. 176.Google Scholar
  45. 41.
  46. 42.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Death’s Badness’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1993), p. 41.Google Scholar
  47. 43.
    As regards this point, Fischer says: If death is indeed a bad for the individual who dies, it is. ..[a bad] that cannot be ‘read off the temporally intrinsic states and properties of an individual at a time. Thus, it is not a ‘current-time-slice’ notion. .. Thus, whether a state or condition is a bad or misfortune may not depend solely on temporally non-relational or current-time-slice features of an individual. Rather, there is an interesting and important dependence on facts about history and possibilities. Death would thus be similar to other bads. .. in not having its normative properties issue solely from current-time-slice features. (My emphasis.) ‘Introduction: Death, Metaphysics, and Morality’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 24. Nagel says also: ... it is arbitrary to restrict the. ..evils [e.g. death] that can befall a man to nonrelational properties...There are...evils [e.g. death] which are irreducibly relational; they are features of the relations between a person...and circumstances which may not coincide with him either in space or in time. (My emphasis.) ‘Death’, in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (London: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 6.Google Scholar
  48. 44.
    See Frances Myrna Kamm, ‘Why Is Death Bad and Worse than Pre-Natal Non-Existence?’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (1988), p. 162.Google Scholar
  49. 45.
    Frances Myrna Kamm, ‘Why Is Death Bad and Worse than Pre-Natal Non-Existence?’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (1988), p. 161.Google Scholar
  50. 46.
    Frances Myrna Kamm, ‘Why Is Death Bad and Worse than Pre-Natal Non-Existence?’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (1988), p. 162.Google Scholar
  51. 47.
    Frances Myrna Kamm, ‘Why Is Death Bad and Worse than Pre-Natal Non-Existence?’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (1988), pp. 162–163.Google Scholar
  52. 48.
    Although I concede that the Injury factor is a factor for the badness of death, I really doubt whether the mere shapes of events at the edges of life (i.e. the Insult factor and the Terror factor) can be any factors for the badness of death. For simplicity, I assume that both of these two factors are acceptable.Google Scholar
  53. 49.
    Frances Myrna Kamm, Morality, Mortality: Death and Whom to Save from It, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 54.Google Scholar
  54. 50.
    ‘Death’, in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (London: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 7–8. Rosenbaum suggests that the issue is not whether one could have been born earlier, but rather whether one could have been conceived earlier. If he is correct, Nagel’s claim is best construed as the claim that it is not logically possible for a person to be, or to have been, conceived earlier. I take Rosenbaum’s point in my discussion. See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), p. 362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 51.
    Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), p. 361.Google Scholar
  56. 52.
    In his well-known book Naming and Necessity, Saul A. Kripke argues that personal identity requires an essentiality of origins, such as a particular genetic structure or some aspect of bodily continuity. He says, ‘How could a person originating from different parents, from a totally different sperm and egg, be this very woman?...It seems to me that anything coming from a different origin would not be this object.’ (p. 113). For more discussion of this topic, see Saul A. Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980), pp. 111–116. Note that if Nagel’s answer to Rosenbaum’s challenge goes like this, ‘There is an asymmetry between time of birth and time of death because time of birth is essential to us whereas time of death is not’, then he begs the question.Google Scholar
  57. 53.
    See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), pp. 362–363. Fischer also makes the same point. He says: Even if it is a necessary condition of personal identity that one issue from the particular sperm and egg cells from which one actually issues, this in itself would not imply that the particular time at which one is born is essential to personal identity. (Why couldn’t those sperm and egg cells have existed earlier?)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 53a.
    ‘Introduction: Death, Metaphysics, and Morality’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 25. See also Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Death’s Badness’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1993), fn. 2.Google Scholar
  59. 54.
    Anthony L. Brueckner and John Martin Fischer, ‘Why Is Death Bad?’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 223.Google Scholar
  60. 55.
    In fact, Nagel himself also suspects that a person might be able to be born earlier. He writes: We could imagine discovering that people developed from individual spores that had existed indefinitely far in advance of their birth. In this fantasy, birth never occurs naturally more than a hundred years before the permanent end of the spore’s existence. But then we discover a way to trigger the premature hatching of these spores, and people are born who have thousands of years of active life before them. Given such a situation, it would be possible to imagine oneself having come into existence thousands of years previously. ‘Death’, in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (London: Cambridge University Press, 1979), fn. 3.Google Scholar
  61. 56.
    See Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  63. 58.
    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), pp. 307–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 60.
    Christopher Belshaw also raises an argument for this point. See Christopher Belshaw, ‘Asymmetry and Non-Existence’, Philosophical Studies 70 (1993), pp. 109–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or, Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 66.
    See ‘Death’, in Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (London: Cambridge University Press, 1979), fn. 3.Google Scholar
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    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), pp. 309–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 68.
    Frederik Kaufman, ‘Death and Deprivation; or Why Lucretius’ Symmetry Argument Fails’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996), p. 310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 69.
    See Fred Feldman, ‘Some Puzzles about the Evil of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 322. Note that I am not here expressing the idea that being born earlier is a bad for us. What I want to show here is that we do not really expect that being born earlier brings us more goods.Google Scholar
  75. 70.
    Michael de Montaigne, Montaigne ‘s Essays, trans. Donald Frame (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958), p. 56. Montaigne is here paraphasing a remark made by Cicero. The thought goes back much further at least to Socrates.Google Scholar
  76. 71.
    This idea has appealed to Pseudo-Plato, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, and Montaigne.Google Scholar
  77. 72.
    See Jeffrie G. Murphy, ‘Rationality and the Fear of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 44.Google Scholar
  78. 73.
    . Baruch Spinoza, Ethics and Treatise on the Collection of the Intellect, trans. Andrew Boyle (London: Everyman, 1993), p.183Google Scholar
  79. 74.
    In his paper ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Rosenbaum illustrates this point clearly. He writes: When one thinks very deeply or reads very extensively about death anxiety [i.e. the fear of death], one is struck by its many faces. It is sometimes the fear of (painful) dying; sometimes the fear of the unknown; sometimes the fear of premature death; and sometimes the fear of nonbeing or nonexistence. It maybe, for some, an anxiety with no clearly identifiable object. See Stephen E. Rosenbaum, ‘The Symmetry Argument: Lucretius against the Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1989), p. 354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 75.
    ‘P’s premature death’ and ‘P’s death event (which brings about P’s premature death)’ are distinct. However, the latter would certainly lead to the former. Therefore, it seems that ‘the fear of premature death’ implies ‘the fear of the death event (which brings about premature death)’.Google Scholar
  81. 76.
    O. H. Green, for example, argues that it is rational to fear death. On the other hand, Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, for instance, argues that it is irrational to fear death. Unfortunately, both of them confuse ‘the fear of premature death’ with ‘the fear of necessary mortal ity’ . See O. H. Green, ‘Fear of Death’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 43 (1982), pp. 99–105;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    and Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, ‘Fearing Death’, Philosophy 58 (1983), pp. 175–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jeffrie G. Murphy, ‘Rationality and the Fear of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 49. Note that the expression ‘P is rational in fearing’ is ambiguous. On the one hand, we can mean that the fear itself is rational. On the other hand, we can mean that the person is rational in the role that he allows his fears to have in his life. What Murphy really means here by ‘P is rational in fearing’ is the latter one. See Ibid., pp. 47–48.Google Scholar
  84. 78.
    Ibid., 49.Google Scholar
  85. 79.
    Ibid. Mary Mothersill also explicates (2) as follows: One ground. .. for describing fear as ‘irrational’ is that it manifests itself in circumstances that the subject himself either knows or believes to be innocuous. For example, I am fearful of high places, lizards, mice, etc. Mary Mothersill, ‘Death’, in Moral Problems. A Collection of Philosophical Essays, ed. James Rachels (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1975), p. 380.Google Scholar
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    Jeffrie G. Murphy, ‘Rationality and the Fear of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 51. Rorty also illustrates (3) as follows: If fear of the horrors of dying from lung cancer. .. could be among the necessary causes of a person’s taking steps to avoid that sort of death—his ceasing to smoking, changing his job or residence—then there would be good reasons for him to fear that sort of death. Indeed a person might judge that it would be wise for him to acquire that sort of fear, if doing so would lead him to take effective safety measures he is otherwise insufficiently motivated to take.Google Scholar
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    Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, ‘Fearing Death’, Philosophy 58 (1983), p. 176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jeffrie G. Murphy, ‘Rationality and the Fear of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 51.Google Scholar
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    ‘The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality’, in Bernard Williams, Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 82.Google Scholar
  90. 83.
    Of course, it is logically possible for one to live forever. However, it is practically impossible for him to live forever. After all, based on modern medical technology, immortality is (practically) impossible. In the discussion of ethical issues, I suggest taking the practical approach, instead of the logical approach.Google Scholar
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    See Jeffrie G. Murphy, ‘Rationality and the Fear of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 56.Google Scholar
  92. 85.
    Jeffrie G. Murphy, ‘Rationality and the Fear of Death’, in The Metaphysics of Death, ed. John Martin Fischer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), p. 52.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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