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Confrontations with the Reaper : A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death - Fred Feldman

Confrontations with the Reaper

A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death

Paperback

Published: 13th January 1994
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What is death? Do people survive death? What do we mean when we say that someone is "dying"? Presenting a clear and engaging discussion of the classic philosophical questions surrounding death, this book studies the great metaphysical and moral problems of death. In the first part, Feldman shows that a definition of life is necessary before death can be defined. After exploring several of the most plausible accounts of the nature of life and demonstrating their failure, he goes on to propose his own conceptual scheme for death and related concepts. In the second part, Feldman turns to ethical and value-theoretical questions about death. Addressing the ancient Epicurean ethical problem about the evil of death, he argues that death can be a great evil for those who die, even if they do not exist after death, because it may deprive them of the goods they would have enjoyed if they had continued to live. Confrontations with the Reaper concludes with a novel consequentialist theory about the morality of killing, applying it to such thorny practical issues as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia.

"Lucid, sensible, and insightful throughout. The criticisms of alternative approaches are particularly penetrating, and the positive suggestions are thoughtful....I have considerable admiration for this fine book. Feldman talks sense about difficult, murky, and perplexing matters."--J.M. Fischer, Philosophical Review "Exceptionally lucid and closely reasoned discussions of the nature of death, from a materialist point of view, and the (dis)value of death, from a consequentialist perspective."--Robert Frazier, Philosophical Books "This book is nearly ideal for engaging students in philosophy. It addresses important and interesting topics, and it is a model of clear thinking. Feldman demonstrates in a way accessible to nonspecialists how to evaluate reasons for a position by casting them in the form of an uncomplicated argument and how to undermine those reasons by constructing a counterexample to a clearly identified premise. The books frequent summaries make it easy for an undergraduate to follow, and the choice of examples ranges beyond the standard science-fiction cases."--Edward Wierenga, Teaching Philosophy "Confrontations contains useful and provocative contributions to the growing literature on the metaphysics and value of death. The extraordinary clarity of Feldman's style is also one of the book's virtues....Feldman has, through clear discussion and illuminating examples, enriched the framework in which philosophers may continue to examine important moral questions concerning death."--Stephen E. Rosenbaum, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research "Replete with imaginative examples, systematic arguments, and some off-beat humour."--Times Literary Supplement "Lucid, sensible, and insightful throughout. The criticisms of alternative approaches are particularly penetrating, and the positive suggestions are thoughtful....I have considerable admiration for this fine book. Feldman talks sense about difficult, murky, and perplexing matters."--J.M. Fischer, Philosophical Review "Exceptionally lucid and closely reasoned discussions of the nature of death, from a materialist point of view, and the (dis)value of death, from a consequentialist perspective."--Robert Frazier, Philosophical Books "This book is nearly ideal for engaging students in philosophy. It addresses important and interesting topics, and it is a model of clear thinking. Feldman demonstrates in a way accessible to nonspecialists how to evaluate reasons for a position by casting them in the form of an uncomplicated argument and how to undermine those reasons by constructing a counterexample to a clearly identified premise. The books frequent summaries make it easy for an undergraduate to follow, and the choice of examples ranges beyond the standard science-fiction cases."--Edward Wierenga, Teaching Philosophy "Confrontations contains useful and provocative contributions to the growing literature on the metaphysics and value of death. The extraordinary clarity of Feldman's style is also one of the book's virtues....Feldman has, through clear discussion and illuminating examples, enriched the framework in which philosophers may continue to examine important moral questions concerning death."--Stephen E. Rosenbaum, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research "Replete with imaginative examples, systematic arguments, and some off-beat humour."--Times Literary Supplement "Confrontations With the Reaper is a brilliant philosophical investigation into the nature and value of death....This is an excellent book that should be immediately purchased and read by anyone who might possibly die, or who might possibly exit life deathlessly, or who knows anyone who did die, or might someday possibly die or might someday exit life deathlessly."--Dialogue "Professor Feldman does a good job. His work is painstakingly precise and is at all times lucid and clear."--Studies in Christian Ethics "Honest and thoroughly pursued."--Georgia Review

Introduction: Confronting the Reaperp. 3
The Reaper--Mysterious and Evilp. 3
The Structure of the Bookp. 5
The Nature of Death
The Search for Death Itselfp. 11
The Problems of Deathp. 11
Conceptual Analysisp. 12
Analysis of Death or Criterion for Death?p. 14
The Biological Concept of Deathp. 19
Life as a Part of Deathp. 20
Life-Functional Theories of Lifep. 22
Life Itselfp. 22
Some Preliminary Objectionsp. 25
Aristotle's Life-Functional Analysis of Lifep. 26
Some Modern Life-Functional Analyses of Lifep. 31
The Matthews Approachp. 35
Conclusionp. 38
Vitalist Theories of Lifep. 39
Vitalismp. 39
The Empirical Problemp. 42
The Jonah Problemp. 43
The Failure of Analyticityp. 45
DNA-ismp. 46
Genetic Informationismp. 51
Problems for Genetic Informationismp. 54
The Enigma of Deathp. 56
The Gift of Lifep. 56
The Biological Concept of Deathp. 56
Perrett's Analysisp. 58
The Standard Analysisp. 60
Puzzles About Suspended Animationp. 60
Problems Concerning Fission and Fusionp. 66
The Mystery of Deathp. 71
On Dying as a Processp. 72
Two Senses of 'Dying,'p. 72
Some Preliminary Proposalsp. 73
Smart's Analysis of Dying2p. 77
Problems for Smart's Analysisp. 78
A New Proposalp. 80
More Mysteries of Dying2p. 85
On Death and Dying2p. 87
The Survival of Deathp. 89
The Termination Thesisp. 89
Some Philosophers Who Have Accepted the Termination Thesisp. 91
Doubts About the Termination Thesisp. 93
The Argument from Definitionp. 96
The Argument from Dualismp. 97
Corpses and Peoplep. 100
Death and Nonexistence Asp. 104
A Materialist Conception of Deathp. 106
A New Approach to Deathp. 106
The Lifelinep. 107
Death Itself, "a Death," and Being Deadp. 108
Death and Lifep. 110
Death and Existencep. 113
Deaths, Lives, and Historiesp. 115
Death and Humanityp. 117
Death and Personalityp. 118
A Materialist Way of Deathp. 123
The Value of Death
Epicurus and the Evil of Deathp. 127
Epicurus's Argument Against the Evil of Deathp. 128
Difficulties for the First Version of the Argumentp. 133
A New Version of the Argumentp. 135
The Fallacy in the New Versionp. 137
How Death Can Be Bad for the One Who Diesp. 138
More Puzzles About the Evil of Deathp. 143
The Puzzlesp. 143
Axiological Preliminariesp. 146
Things That Are Bad for Peoplep. 148
The Evil of Deathp. 150
Some Proposed Answersp. 152
Conclusionsp. 156
Utilitarianism, Victimism, and the Morality of Killingp. 157
"Thou Shalt Not Kill,"p. 157
Hedonic Act Utilitarianism and the Morality of Killingp. 163
Why HAU Fails to Explain the Wrongness of Killingp. 166
Theories Based on Harm to the Victimp. 167
And Why They Fail, Toop. 170
Why Killing Is Wrongp. 173
Ideal Act Utilitarianismp. 173
Vitalistic Act Utilitarianismp. 174
Hedono-vitalistic Act Utilitarianismp. 177
Problems for HVAUp. 181
Justicismp. 182
Justicized Act Utilitarianismp. 185
Abortion and the Failure to Conceivep. 191
Three Examplesp. 193
Justicism, Murder, and the Failure to Conceivep. 198
Justicized Act Utilitarianism and the Problem of Abortionp. 200
The "Right to Life,"p. 205
Advantages of This Viewp. 207
The Morality and Rationality of Suicidep. 210
Welcoming the Reaperp. 210
Three Arguments for the Immorality of Suicidep. 211
An Argument for the Irrationality of Suicidep. 215
An Epistemic Argument Against the Rationality of Suicidep. 217
"Calculative Rationality" and Suicidep. 219
Euthanasiap. 223
Epiloguep. 225
Notesp. 229
Bibliographyp. 239
Indexp. 243
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195089288
ISBN-10: 0195089286
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 264
Published: 13th January 1994
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 13.97  x 1.52
Weight (kg): 0.3