Philosophical Papers 48 (2):179-209 (2019)

Kathy Behrendt
Wilfrid Laurier University
There is a fear of death that persistently eludes adequate explanation by contemporary philosophers of death. The reason for this is their focus on mortal harm issues, such as why death is bad for the person who dies. Claims regarding the fear of death are assumed to be contingent on the resolution of questions about the badness of death. In practice, however, consensus on some mortal harm issues has not resulted in comparable clarity on mortal fear. I contend we cannot do justice to fear of death unless we detach it from theories about the badness of death, including the overwhelmingly-popular deprivation theory. The case for this involves disambiguation of certain aspects of mortal harm, a broad conception of what is involved in accounting for an emotion, and close attention to the nature of the fear in question. The source of fear of death is our departure from a context in which self-directed emotions have coherent application; our attitudes become ‘unmoored,’ in Samuel Scheffler’s phrase. While this does not result in a fear that is sui generis, it does demand that we remove the object of fear from the realm of well-being in order to make sense of it.
Keywords death  harm  deprivation  fear  emotion  well-being
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Reprint years 2018, 2019
DOI 10.1080/05568641.2018.1462668
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References found in this work BETA

Death and the Value of Life.Jeff McMahan - 1988 - Ethics 99 (1):32-61.
Disappointment, Sadness, and Death.Kai Draper - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (3):387-414.
Existential Terror.Ben Bradley - 2015 - The Journal of Ethics 19 (3-4):409-418.
How Should We Feel About Death?Ben Bradley - 2015 - Philosophical Papers 44 (1):1-14.
Death and Rational Emotion.Kai Draper - 2013 - In Fred Feldman Ben Bradley (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death. pp. 297.

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