Textbook Notes (362,775)
Canada (158,052)
Philosophy (141)

"Is Death An Evil" (Makropulos Case)

3 Pages
Unlock Document

McMaster University
Stefan Rodde

Summary of “Makropulos Case” Williams wants to argue that immortality--or a life without death--would be meaningless, or that death gives meaning to life. Let us call this position the Makropolus Position: Makropolus Position: that death gives life meaning, and that an immortal life would be meaningless. Williams begins by presenting two arguments in favor of an opposing position, one which we have called in class the Epicurean View: Epicurean View: death is neither an evil nor a good; it neither makes life meaningful nor meaningles; death is nothing to us. (Notice that the Epicurean view technically says that death is evaluatively neutral--i.e., it is neither an evil nor a good. In this article, however, and in a majority of the others we will be looking at, we are primarily concerned with whether death is an evil. So we have left discussion of whether death is a good alone for now. However, do notice that the following discussion could be run concerning death as good, as opposed to evil. You might see for yourself whether you think parallel moves can be made if someone were to try to argue that death was a good thing, and consider why someone might think this.) Williams' strategy is to show how the two arguments for the Epicurean View fail, and how this fact, together with some additional considerations, buttress support for the Makropolus Position. The two arguments in support of the Epicurean view are as follows: Argument 1: (1) If death is an evil, then we must experience it as evil. (2) Death is an experiential blank; we can never experience death as evil. (C) Therefore, death is not an evil. Argument 2: (1) If death is an evil, then more of it should make a difference than less of it--i.e., we should prefer less death than more. (2) Once you are dead, you are dead for the same amount of time--FOREVER--so more of it doesn't make a difference than less of it. (C) Therefore, death is not an evil. In Argument 1, premise (1) follows from a general Epicurean Priniple: Epicurean Principle: something is good or bad for a person if and only if that person experiences it as good or bad; nothing can be bad for a person if that person does not experience it as bad. We talked about the Epicurean Principle in relation to Nagel's article, "Death." Recall that Nagel argued against this principle because he thought that there were plenty of counterexamples: lies, betrayal, infidelity, etc., are all cases where it seems that something is bad for a person, even if that person never finds out. So given what Nagel says in his article, we can assume that he would reject premise (1) of Argument 1. But what about Argument 2? Premise (1) seems pretty intuitive: usually, if something is evil, then more of it will make a difference--i.e., we would prefer less of it than more. One murder is bad; more murders is even worse. Getting an F in class is bad; getting more Fs is even worse, etc. And premise (2) seems intuitive as well: if once you are dead, you are dead forever, then being dead one year more or less really won't make a difference in the amount of time you are dead--it is still for eternity either way. Williams, however, thinks that there are several things wrong with Argument 2. First, he thinks that there is a dangerous tension between Argument 1 and Argument 2--he thinks that Argument 2 indirectly contradcts Argument (1). To show this, Wiliams claims that premise (2) of Argument 2 implies the follow
More Less

Related notes for PHILOS 1E03

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.