When Death Comes Too Late: Radical Life Extension and the Makropulos Case

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 90:147-166 (2021)
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Famously, Bernard Williams has argued that although death is an evil if it occurs when we still have something to live for, we have no good reason to desire that our lives be radically extended because any such life would at some point reach a stage when we become indifferent to the world and ourselves. This is supposed to be so bad for us that it would be better if we died before that happens. Most critics have rejected Williams’ arguments on the grounds that it is far from certain that we will run out of things to live for, and I don't contest these objections. Instead, I am trying to show that they do not affect the persuasiveness of Williams’ argument, which in my reading does not rely on the claim that we will inevitably run out of things to live for, but on the far less contentious claim that it is not unthinkable we will do so and the largely ignored claim that if that happens, we will have died too late.



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Michael Hauskeller
University of Liverpool

References found in this work

Meaningfulness and Time.Antti Kauppinen - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):345-377.
The Misfortunes of the Dead.George Pitcher - 1984 - American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (2):183 - 188.
Immortality and Boredom.John Martin Fischer & Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin - 2014 - The Journal of Ethics 18 (4):353-372.
Infinity goes up on trial: Must immortality be meaningless?Timothy Chappell - 2007 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):30-44.

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