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PHIL 102 Lecture Notes - Deductive Reasoning, Lucretius, If And Only If

Course Code
PHIL 102
Dominic Mc Iver Lopes

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practice exam question: what’s a deductive argument?
-(you are to evaluate the argument on the basis that) an argument where the premises
are designed to guarantee the conclusion
thesis: S’s death is bad for S
objections from Lucretius:
1. S is harmed by a state only if S exists when it occurs
2. S is harmed by a state only if S experiences it
3. prenatal nonexistence does not harm S
these all follow the same assumption:
1. for S to be dead is for S to not be alive (S doesn’t exist)
2. there’s no state S is in when S is dead
3. S’s death is intrinsically bad for S iff it deprives S of the intrinsic goods of life
(being bad for S=harming S)
Is this third assumption true or false? Does death deprive S of the intrinsic goods of life?
note: this is an objection-reply format, which is super common in philosophy and is
meant to refine the proposed theory
Nagel thinks that the thesis is true simple goods are not the only type of good that exists
-the objection assumes that all intrinsic goods are simple goods
-the third assumption only works if you think of intrinsic goods as simple goods
-however, some intrinsic goods aren’t simple, but are relational
(simple goods is not the term used by Nagel)
Simple goods is a state whose goodness consists in S’s experience of it
-eg. pleasures
-the only good part of it is its experience
Hedonism implies the assumption that all intrinsic goods are simple; but not that all
simple goods are intrinsic
Lucretius is a Hedonism
He says that if someone talks behind your back, you aren’t aware of it so you aren’t
If you think you would be harmed, then you believe in relational harms
Simple harm is a harm that consists in S’s experience of it
-eg. pain
relational harms; eg. I haven’t written an opera, but it’s not as much of a harm to me as
it would be to someone who had been trying to years to write one but wasn’t able to
Nagel: some goods are identified by a person’s history and possibilities
-trajectory and capability
-when you’re born, you have no history but almost infinite possibility
!-but very little capability for possibility
!-eg. saying a baby will go to harvard is different than a grade 12 A student
-history and capabilities grow as you live (to a point)
-so death would deprive you of these, and the possibilities that these capabilities would
allow you to do
-at 30 you’re being deprived of more possibilities than at 90, that you have possibly
worked hard to achieve the capabilities for
-when you lose the capabilities (death, injury) you lose the possibilities