Sentient Nonpersons and the Disvalue of Death

Bioethics 30 (7):511-519 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Implicit in our everyday attitudes and practices is the assumption that death ordinarily harms a person who dies. A far more contested matter is whether death harms sentient individuals who are not persons, a category that includes many animals and some human beings. On the basis of the deprivation account of the harm of death, I argue that death harms sentient nonpersons. I next consider possible bases for the commonsense judgment that death ordinarily harms persons more than it harms sentient nonpersons. Contrary to what some philosophers believe, it is doubtful that the familiar resources of prudential value theory can vindicate this judgment. I show that the approach that at first glance seems most promising for supporting this judgment – namely, invoking an objective account of well-being – faces substantial challenges, before arguing that McMahan's time-relative interest account supplies the needed theoretical basis. I then go on to extract a significant practical implication of the first thesis, that death ordinarily harms sentient nonpersons: We should find a way to discontinue the routine killing of animal subjects following their use in experiments.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Epicurus and the Harm of Death.William Grey - 1999 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (3):358 – 364.
Accounting for the Harm of Death.Duncan Purves - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (1):89-112.
Death's Distinctive Harm.Stephan Blatti - 2012 - American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (4):317-30.
Is There a Morally Relevant Difference Between Human and Animal Nonpersons?Evelyn Pluhar - 1988 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1 (1):59-68.
The Death of God and the Death of Persons.J. Kellenberger - 1980 - Religious Studies 16 (3):263 - 282.
How Bad is Death?Ben Bradley - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):111-127.
Death as a Social Harm.Lori Gruen - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1):53-65.
Can Death Be a Harm to the Person Who Dies?W. Glannon - 2004 - Journal of Medical Ethics 30 (6):e3-e3.
Harm, Change, and Time.C. Belshaw - 2012 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (5):425-444.
Harming the Dead.James Stacey Taylor - 2008 - Journal of Philosophical Research 33:185-202.
The Metaphysics of Death.John Martin Fischer (ed.) - 1993 - Stanford University Press.
The Worst Time to Die.Ben Bradley - 2008 - Ethics 118 (2):291-314.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-02-01

Downloads
420 (#25,380)

6 months
66 (#12,895)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

David DeGrazia
George Washington University

Citations of this work

The Case for Welfare Biology.Asher A. Soryl, Mike R. King, Andrew J. Moore & Philip J. Seddon - 2021 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (2):1-25.
Valuing Animals as They Are—Whether They Feel It or Not.C. E. Abbate - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):770-788.
Døden som et onde.Carl Tollef Solberg - 2019 - Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 54 (3):167-186.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Philosophy of Death.Steven Luper - 2009 - Cambridge University Press.

Add more references