This chapter examines the connection between value and desire with regard to death. It argues that having categorical desires is a necessary condition for death to be bad for those who die, and that the degree to which death is bad bears a close relation to the number and strength of those desires. The chapter also analyzes the principles espoused by Jeff McMahan in his book “The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life.”.
Nozick's thought experiment is less effective than is often believed. Certainly, there could be reasons to enter the machine. Possibly, life there might be among the best of all those available. Yet we need to distinguish between two versions. On the first, I retain my beliefs, memories, dispositions, some knowledge. On the second, all these too are determined by the scientists. Nozick alludes to both versions. But only on the first will machine life have appeal.
A number of claims are closely connected with, though logically distinct from, animalism. One is that organisms cease to exist when they die. Two others concern the relation of the brain, or the brainstem, to animal life. One of these holds that the brainstem is necessary for life?more precisely, that (say) my cat's brainstem is necessary for my cat's life to continue. The other is that it is sufficient for life?more precisely, that so long as (say) my cat's brainstem continues (...) to function, so too does my cat. I argue against these claims. (shrink)
Where can I find answers? -- Is life sacred? -- Is it bad to die? -- Which deaths are worse? -- Might I live on? -- Should I take the elixir of life? -- Who's who? -- Is it all meaningless? -- Should there be more, and better, people? -- Does reality matter?
Although many people believe that more people would be better, arguments intended to show this are unconvincing. I consider one of Parfit's arguments for a related conclusion, that even when both are worth living, we ought to prefer the better of two lives. Were this argument successful, or so I claim, then it would follow that more people would be better. But there aren't reasons for preferring the better of two lives. Nor is an attempted rejoinder effective. We can agree (...) that there aren't reasons for preferring the better of two lives, and yet still maintain there are reasons for improving lives. (shrink)
This book explores many of the issues that arise when we consider persons who are in pain, who are suffering, and who are nearing the end of life. Suffering provokes us into a journey toward discovering who we are and forces us to rethink many of the views we hold about ourselves.
As anxiety about environmental change and its effects grows, we need to understand both the scientific processes and the ethical and aesthetic judgments involved in deciding which changes we should welcome and promote and which we should try to avoid. In Environmental Philosophy Christopher Belshaw examines the current debates on the environment, focusing on questions of value while also taking into account relevant issues in epistemology and metaphysics. Beginning with an overview of current concerns, Belshaw locates our attitudes toward the (...) environment within their cultural and historical milieu. He then examines the various positions in detail, ranging from the moderate view that we ought to consider not only ourselves but also other animals, to the seemingly more extravagant contention that non-sentient life, rocks, deserts B indeed all of the processes of nature B should be considered intrinsically valuable. In later chapters Belshaw explores the importance of an aesthetic response to the environment, opening the way for a human-centred position that is both more generous and more flexible than those often advanced elsewhere. In contrast to many of its competitors, Environmental Philosophy challenges accepted dichotomies - man/nature, instrumental/intrinsic, green/non-green - and advocates conciliation rather than confrontation. Although the arguments are rigorous, the writing is clear and non-technical, making Environmental Philosophy an excellent survey for those engaging with these issues for the first time, as well as offering much to challenge the more advanced student. (shrink)
Kripke’s opponents claim that gold, in all possible worlds, is a yellow metal. They believe that the atomic number can vary from world to world. Kripke inverts this, holding that while gold is, in all possible worlds, the element with atomic number 79, its surface properties may vary widely from world to world. Both views are flawed, but of the two, the rival is to be preferred. There is a better view. Gold is, in all possible worlds, the element with (...) atomic number 79. And (given certain specifiable conditions) it is, in all possible worlds, a yellow meta!. Only insofar as they give rise to familiar and important surface properties is there reason to maintain that structural properties are at the essence or nature of things. (shrink)