Past Desires and the Dead

Steven Luper, Trinity University


I examine an argument that appears to take us from Parfit’s [Reasons and Persons, Oxford: Clarendon Press (1984)] thesis that we have no reason to fulfil desires we no longer care about to the conclusion that the effect of posthumous events on our desires is a matter of indifference (the post-mortem thesis). I suspect that many of Parfit’s readers, including Vorobej [Philosophical Studies 90 (1998) 305], think that he is committed to (something like) this reasoning, and that Parfit must therefore give up the post-mortem thesis. However, as it turns out, the argument is subtly equivocal and does not commit Parfit to the post-mortem thesis. I close with some doubts about Parfit’s case for his indifference thesis.