Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy

Diogo Santos e Ricardo Miguel

LANCOG University of Lisbon

Reflections on the Mirror

23 March 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: The standard deprivation account of the badness of death is vulnerable to a reformulation of the Mirror Image Argument. Together with a plausible principle linking values and attitudes towards them, the account implies that we should have negative attitudes towards prenatal and postmortem non-existence (since they both deprive). However, this seems unreasonable – it makes sense, e.g. to fear postmortem but not prenatal non-existence. To answer this challenge, a deprivationist should either (i) explain in what sense both non-existences are relevantly dissimilar or (ii) explain the asymmetrical attitudes, even though both non-existences are relevantly similar. We briefly consider and dismiss two replies that claim that, while a person could have died later than the actual moment she did, she could not have come into existence earlier. Then we assess Brueckner and Fischer’s (1986) reply, which explains the attitudinal asymmetry by appealing to a bias in favour of future pleasures. A careful look into Yi’s (2012, 2016) criticism of this latter proposal leads us to distinguish between a local and a global kind of deprivation. Given the distinction, Brueckner and Fischer’s proposal is incomplete for it only works with local deprivation. Finally, we suggest an explanation that works with both kinds of deprivation and, hence, offers a complete response to the challenge. The explanation appeals to a bias in favour of interests that are closer to our present ones.