David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Noûs 24 (2):297-322 (1990)
Life may turn sour and, in extremis, not worth living. On occasion it may be best, moreover, to lay down one's life for a greater cause. None of this is any news, debatable though it may remain, in general or case by case. Now comes the news that life does not matter in the way we had thought. No resurgence of existentialism, nor tidings from some ancient religion or some new cult, the news derives from the most sober and probing philosophical argument (the extraor- dinary Parfit, 1984, Part III), and takes more precisely the following form: Even though life L is optimal (in all dimensions), and even though if it were extended L would continue to be optimal, it does not follow that it is best to extend it, even for the subject whose life L is. What is the argument? Section II will defend a certain view of the nature of persons and personal identity, and Section III will then argue for the Paradox on that basis, and reflect on its philosophical implications and on the options it presents.
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