Lecture notes

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1 Jun 2011
PHLB09 2011 Lecture 9
Soul or person-based argument for fetuses rights (JPII)
Mother's rights (Jarvis)
Father's rights (Harris)
Beyond rights: Virtue Ethics (Hursthouse)
The Sacred and the Tragic (Dworkin)
Duty to Abort? (Purdy)
Throughout we've been discussing death on the assumption that there's something wrong with it
Next question: what's wrong with death?
1. Negative Conceptions of Death
oThe Pit of Tartarus - lower than Hades, placed there if being punished for something
oTantalus and the Hanging Rock
oTityos and the Birds - little birds would peck at his entrails for eternity
oSisyphus and unending futility: he ties up the God of Death. He is condemned to roll the
rock up to the top of a hill, then it would drop down the other side, and he'd have to do it
oThe Furies: 3 demonic women who would repeat your crimes to you for all eternity
oThe wailing and gnashing of teeth
oThe Seven Circles - Dante, the punishment gets worse as you get lower through the
circles. Different hells and different punishments for each level
oThe Ice Cave - Niflheim. In Norse mythology. Evidence that these "hells" are largely
attributed to the imaginations of the people..it's cold in Norway, it's hot in Greece
oThe Zombie - The Mass of the Red Death (the Plague). The horror in this story is the
character who continues to live after death. Their corpse is decaying, and they're succumbing
to the disease
oALL OF THESE are only threatening if you believe you don't really die at death, if you
continue to live on based on your morals and actions performed throughout life
oThe Worm: person rotting under the ground, getting eaten by worms
oThe Sick Rose: O Rose, thou art sick! The invisible worm that flies in the night, in the
howling storm, has found out thy bed of crimson joy, and his dark secret love does thy life
destroy - William Blake (it's frightening because the rose is CURRENTLY being eaten by the
1. Lucretius' Diganosis
oLucretius holds that these are real fears but here, not in another world beyond death…
oThe fear of Tantalus is a fear of the Gods
...or a fear of what chance may impose on your life
oThe torture of Tityos is "the man who lies lovesick...gnawed at by nervous agony"
oSisyphus' work is that of the person who runs for public office
...the unattainable goal of power
oThe fear of the Furies, the seven circles of hell, judgment day…
...is the fear of comeuppance. We all know we could do better, and worry that our
failures will bring crisis upon us
o"Even when these are absent, still the mind, in the anxiety brought on by awareness of its
deeds, goads itself and scorches itself with whips"
...here on earth, the life of the foolish becomes hell"
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