[PHLB09 FINAL EXAM – ARTICLE NOTES]
Death: The end of life in which one is no longer existent. It is considered evil because it is
the end of the greatly valued gift given – Life.
-What we find desirable in life are certain states, conditions, or types of activity. It
is being alive, doing certain things, having certain experiences that we consider
good. But if death is an evil, it is the loss of life, rather than the state of being
dead, or non-existent, or unconscious, that is objectionable.
Those who object to death have made the mistake of trying to imagine what it is like to be
dead. It is alleged that the failure to realize that this task is logically impossible (there is
nothing to imagine) leads to the conviction that death is a mysterious and therefore
terrifying prospective state.
-If we are to make sense of the view that to die is bad, it must be on the ground that
life is a good and death is the corresponding deprivation or loss, bad not because
of any positive features but because of the desirability of what it removes
There certainly are goods and evils of a simple kind (including some pleasures and pains)
which a person possesses at a given time simply in virtue of his condition at that time.
But this is not true of all the things we regard as good or bad for a man.
- Often we need to know his history to tell whether something is a misfortune or
not; this applies to ills like deterioration, deprivation, and damage.
-Sometimes his experiential state is relatively unimportant-as in the case of a man
who wastes his life in the cheerful pursuit of a method of communicating with
A man is the subject of good and evil as much because he has hopes which may or may
not be fulfilled, or possibilities which may or may not be realized, as because of his
capacity to suffer and enjoy.
-If death is an evil, it must be accounted for in these terms, and the impossibility of
locating it within life should not trouble us.
Lucretius observed that no one finds it disturbing to contemplate the eternity preceding
his own birth, and he took this to show that it must be irrational to fear death, since death
is simply the mirror image of the prior abyss.
-It is true that both the time before a man's birth and the time after his death are
times when he does not exist. But the time after his death is time of which his
death deprives him. It is time in which, had he not died then, he would be alive.
•Therefore any death entails the loss of some life that its victim would have
led had he not died at that or any earlier point.
A man's sense of his own experience does not embody this idea of a natural limit. His
existence defines for him an essentially open-ended possible future, containing the usual
mixture of goods and evils that he has found so tolerable in the past.