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The Metaphysics of Death


The Metaphysics of Death is a collection of essays by contemporary philosophers which assumes that death is the permanent end of an individual’s conscious existence. Given that death is the end, what is it that makes death bad for the person who has died (since the deceased cannot experience death)? When does the harm of death take place–at death? Can someone who no longer exists be harmed? Why do we regard nonexistence after death as bad when we have no problem with our nonexistence before birth? Contemplating these questions, Epicurus concluded that death is not bad for the person who has died because the dead cannot experience anything, and therefore it is irrational to fear death. Others, such as Thomas Nagel, have resisted this conclusion by arguing that death is bad because it deprives the deceased of the good things in life.