Document Type

Post-Print

Publication Date

12-2012

Abstract

According to the immunity thesis, nothing that happens after we are 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 incurs harm (benefit) while nonexistent. 6. And nothing is causally affected at one time by events that occur at a later time. 7. So no postmortem 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 events are bad for some of us while we are alive. But 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

Editor

Ben Bradley, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson

Publisher

Oxford University Press

City

New York

ISBN

9780195388923, 9780190271459

Publication Information

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death

Included in

Philosophy Commons

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