PHL382 Final Exam notes.docx

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Jonathan Breslin

PHL382 Final Exam notesLecture 1 What is deathDeath as an event vs a processProcess definition though intuitive is problematic because we could then being considering people dead even when theyre not no single point of telling when someone is deadDeath the end of lifeBernat Culver and Gert death is a process beginning with the failure of certain organ systems during life not very practical otherwise hospitals would be full of decomposing bodiesB C and G look a the body as an integration of all or most subsystemsConfusing decompositiondisintegration with deathDeath as the permanent cessation of functioning of the organism as a wholeR Veatch death as a complete change in the status of a living entity characterized by the irreversible loss of those characteristics that are essentially significant to itBut what defines personhood or humannessAll the definitions of death have a notion of complete and irreversible change and the fundamental nature of an organism in common Lecture 2 Killing and Related ConceptsWe understand death as a damaging and irreversible change to a living organismKilling is a moral wrong but whyHarm based approach to killing as a moral wrong 1 Death is bad 2 When you kill you force death on someone you are forcing bad on them 3 Doing so does a harm to that person Therefore killing is morally wrongHow is death harmful Prevents people from achieving future goods deprives people of life an intrinsic goodEpicurean problem what could be bad with no bad effectsin fact no effects at allWe cannot experience the bad effects of death because we cannot experience death Death is the end of experienceIf we cannot experience it then how can it be badThe pain and suffering are a part of the process leading up to deaththese are the badness of dying not death itselfEpicurus claim hinges on the idea that people can only be harmed by things that they experienceIf death is the end of experience then it would not be harmful to me to miss out on future pleasures because I cannot possibly experience the disappointment of missing out on these thingsHarm after death is not possible for Epicurus because nothing can be experienced after deathThe harm based argument is valid but unsound because the first premise is untrueWrongness in killing varies with the amount of harm inflictedHarm based argument does not follow from our intuitions about life and deathEpicurus does not draw any distinction between prelife nonexistence and postlife nonexistenceWe may perceive death as bad because of the effect it would have on our loved ones so perhaps killing is bad because of the harm it does to others HOWEVER if this is the case then it would imply that killing someone would not be wrong if it would not harm others ex killing a drifterRespect based approach to killing as a moral wrong killing a person fails to treat that person as being of equal moral worth Implication would it not be wrong to kill someone who is not worthy of this respectProblems with both the respect and harm based arguments we can excuse killing in war selfdefense medicine withholding treatment withdrawing treatment palliative sedation2 distinctions killing vs letting die and intention vs foresightJames Rachels argued for the moral permissibility of active euthanasiaHe found the killing vs letting die distinction irrelevantRachels argument 1 Smith and Jones the evil uncles nephew needs to die for inheritancesame motive same outcome different actionmorally equivalent the bare difference between killing and letting die does not in itself make a moral difference in this exampleRachels argument 2 the prohibition against killing endorses the option that leads to more suffering in many situationsRachels argument 3 causing someones death is only considered wrong because death is considered a great evil If death is not an evil in a particular situation then causing someones death shouldnt be considered wrongWhy the distinction Attempting to kill someone involves greater likelihood of death than attempting to let dieCharles Douglas the closer one is to the cause of death the more responsible one feels for the death
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