What we owe the dead

Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (1):54-70 (2009)
Abstract
abstract My aim in this paper is to argue that we have at least some obligations to the dead. After briefly considering some previous (unsuccessful) attempts to establish such obligations, I offer a reductio argument which establishes at least some obligations to the dead. Following this, the surprising extent of these obligations (given a few roughly Kantian assumptions) is considered. I then argue that there are and must be some significant limitations on the duties of the living in relation to the dead. My aim in this paper is not to sort out how we should deal with all of the particular cases in which the question of obligations to the dead emerge — in archaeological digs, research involving the newly dead, the execution of wills, or the fulfilment of last requests — but I will attempt to lay some groundwork for the future assessment of these questions.
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