Confrontations with the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death / Edition 1

Confrontations with the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death / Edition 1

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by Fred Feldman
     
 

What is death? Do people survive death? What do we mean when we say that someone is "dying"? Presenting a clear and engaging discussion of the classic philosophical questions surrounding death, this book studies the great metaphysical and moral problems of death. In the first part, Feldman shows that a definition of life is necessary before death can be

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Overview

What is death? Do people survive death? What do we mean when we say that someone is "dying"? Presenting a clear and engaging discussion of the classic philosophical questions surrounding death, this book studies the great metaphysical and moral problems of death. In the first part, Feldman shows that a definition of life is necessary before death can be defined. After exploring several of the most plausible accounts of the nature of life and demonstrating their failure, he goes on to propose his own conceptual scheme for death and related concepts. In the second part, Feldman turns to ethical and value-theoretical questions about death. Addressing the ancient Epicurean ethical problem about the evil of death, he argues that death can be a great evil for those who die, even if they do not exist after death, because it may deprive them of the goods they would have enjoyed if they had continued to live. Confrontations with the Reaper concludes with a novel consequentialist theory about the morality of killing, applying it to such thorny practical issues as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195089288
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/28/1994
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
983,295
Product dimensions:
8.19(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.72(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Confronting the Reaper3
The Reaper--Mysterious and Evil3
The Structure of the Book5
IThe Nature of Death
1.The Search for Death Itself11
The Problems of Death11
Conceptual Analysis12
Analysis of Death or Criterion for Death?14
The Biological Concept of Death19
Life as a Part of Death20
2.Life-Functional Theories of Life22
Life Itself22
Some Preliminary Objections25
Aristotle's Life-Functional Analysis of Life26
Some Modern Life-Functional Analyses of Life31
The Matthews Approach35
Conclusion38
3.Vitalist Theories of Life39
Vitalism39
The Empirical Problem42
The Jonah Problem43
The Failure of Analyticity45
DNA-ism46
Genetic Informationism51
Problems for Genetic Informationism54
4.The Enigma of Death56
The Gift of Life56
The Biological Concept of Death56
Perrett's Analysis58
The Standard Analysis60
Puzzles About Suspended Animation60
Problems Concerning Fission and Fusion66
The Mystery of Death71
5.On Dying as a Process72
Two Senses of 'Dying,'72
Some Preliminary Proposals73
Smart's Analysis of Dying277
Problems for Smart's Analysis78
A New Proposal80
More Mysteries of Dying285
On Death and Dying287
6.The Survival of Death89
The Termination Thesis89
Some Philosophers Who Have Accepted the Termination Thesis91
Doubts About the Termination Thesis93
The Argument from Definition96
The Argument from Dualism97
Corpses and People100
Death and Nonexistence As104
7.A Materialist Conception of Death106
A New Approach to Death106
The Lifeline107
Death Itself, "a Death," and Being Dead108
Death and Life110
Death and Existence113
Deaths, Lives, and Histories115
Death and Humanity117
Death and Personality118
A Materialist Way of Death123
IIThe Value of Death
8.Epicurus and the Evil of Death127
Epicurus's Argument Against the Evil of Death128
Difficulties for the First Version of the Argument133
A New Version of the Argument135
The Fallacy in the New Version137
How Death Can Be Bad for the One Who Dies138
9.More Puzzles About the Evil of Death143
The Puzzles143
Axiological Preliminaries146
Things That Are Bad for People148
The Evil of Death150
Some Proposed Answers152
Conclusions156
10.Utilitarianism, Victimism, and the Morality of Killing157
"Thou Shalt Not Kill,"157
Hedonic Act Utilitarianism and the Morality of Killing163
Why HAU Fails to Explain the Wrongness of Killing166
Theories Based on Harm to the Victim167
And Why They Fail, Too170
11.Why Killing Is Wrong173
Ideal Act Utilitarianism173
Vitalistic Act Utilitarianism174
Hedono-vitalistic Act Utilitarianism177
Problems for HVAU181
Justicism182
Justicized Act Utilitarianism185
12.Abortion and the Failure to Conceive191
Three Examples193
Justicism, Murder, and the Failure to Conceive198
Justicized Act Utilitarianism and the Problem of Abortion200
The "Right to Life,"205
Advantages of This View207
13.The Morality and Rationality of Suicide210
Welcoming the Reaper210
Three Arguments for the Immorality of Suicide211
An Argument for the Irrationality of Suicide215
An Epistemic Argument Against the Rationality of Suicide217
"Calculative Rationality" and Suicide219
Euthanasia223
14.Epilogue225
Notes229
Bibliography239
Index243

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