The Existence of the Dead

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So what is death? As an approximation, it seems reasonable to equate death with the loss of life. Dying is ceasing to be alive, and it occurs precisely at the time life ends. Being dead, in turn, is something that happens to things that die.

The last of these – being dead – can seem mysterious. It is not so easy to grasp what is entailed by being dead, especially if, as I will assume, the dying process usually takes things out of existence (more on that assumption later). Consider that when something is cold or beautiful it is in some state – the state of being cold or beautiful, respectively. If something is dead, isn't it also in some state, namely the state of being dead? And if something is in some state at some time, doesn't it have to exist at that time? After all, if there is nothing in my house then nothing in it is cold. So if something ceases to exist in dying, mustn't it subsequently be in no state at all, and therefore not dead?


Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Kimberley Brownlee, & David Coady


John Wiley & Sons





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A Companion to Applied Philosophy

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