Dissertation, Harvard University (2018)

Michael Rabenberg
Princeton University
This dissertation comprises three chapters, each of which is concerned with a normative topic having to do with death. Chapter 1, “Against Deprivationism,” is concerned with the deprivationist thesis that a person’s death is bad for her if and only if, and because and to the extent that, it makes her life worse for her than it otherwise would have been. I argue that deprivationism is probably false. Chapter 2, “Some Versions of Lucretius’ Puzzle,” is concerned with Lucretius’ Puzzle, very roughly the question whether anything rationally recommends preferring later death to earlier death over preferring earlier creation to later creation. I distinguish among several different versions of this question and argue that we ought to answer some but not all of them in the affirmative. Chapter 3, “Numbers, Ratios, and Parity,” is concerned with the question whether it is the case that, although you are morally required, ceteris paribus, to prevent the deaths of two people rather than the death of one other person when you cannot prevent all three of these deaths, you are not morally required, ceteris paribus, to prevent the deaths of 1,001 people rather than the deaths of 1,000 other people when you cannot prevent all 2,001 of these deaths. I defend an affirmative answer to this question.
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