Document Type

Post-Print

Publication Date

12-2012

Abstract

According to t he immunity thesis, nothing that happens after we a re dead harms or benefits us . It seems defensible on the following basis : 1. If harmed (benefitted) by something , we incur the harm (benefit) at some time. 2. So if harmed (benefitted) by a postmortem event, we incur the harm (benefit) while alive or at some other time . 3. But if we incur the harm (benefit) while alive , backwards causation occurs. 4. And if we incur the harm (benefit) at any other time, we incur it at a time when we do not exist. 5 . Yet nothing incur s harm (benefit) while nonexistent. 6 . And nothing is causally affected at one time by events that occur at a later time. 7 . So no postm ortem event is ever bad (or good) for us (the immunity thesis). Despite its plausibility, I mean to resist this argument . I will reject premise 1 on the grounds that dying may be atemporally bad for us . I will also reject premise 3. Some postmortem event s are bad for some of us while we are alive. B ut I am not going to report some new exotic particle that makes backwards causation possible . As far as I know, 6 is true . If an event is responsible for a harm that we incur before the event itself occurs, it might be said to harm us retroactively ; if when or after it occurs, it might be said to harm us proactively . My view is that some postmortem events harm us retroactively, but without backwards causation (Pitcher 1984 ).

Document Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195388923.013.0015

Publication Information

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death

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Philosophy Commons

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