“The End of Immortality!” Eternal Life and the Makropulos Debate

The Journal of Ethics 19 (3-4):305-321 (2015)

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Responding to a well-known essay by Bernard Williams, philosophers have engaged in what I call “the Makropulos debate,” a debate over whether immortality—“living forever”—would be desirable for beings like us. Lacking a firm conceptual grounding in the religious contexts from which terms such as “immortality” and “eternal life” gain much of their sense, the debate has consisted chiefly in a battle of speculative fantasies. Having presented my four main reasons for this assessment, I examine an alternative and neglected conception, the idea of eternal life as a present possession, derived in large part from Johannine Christianity. Without claiming to argue for the truth of this conception, I present its investigation as exemplifying a conceptually fruitful direction of inquiry into immortality or eternal life, one which takes seriously the religious and ethical surroundings of these concepts
Keywords Christian theology  Eternal life  Immortality  Makropulos case
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DOI 10.1007/s10892-015-9205-6
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Death.Shelly Kagan - 2012 - Yale University Press.
The Experience and Perception of Time.Robin Le Poidevin - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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