Death, asymmetry and the psychological self

Pettigrove, G. (2002) Death, asymmetry and the psychological self. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 83(4), pp. 407-423. (doi:10.1111/1468-0114.00157)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.

Abstract

Lucretius thought that we should be as indifferent to the time of our death as we are toward the time of our birth. This paper will critique the ways in which Thomas Nagel, Frederik Kaufman and Christopher Belshaw have appealed to a psychological notion of the self in an attempt to defend our asymmetric intuitions against Lucretius’ claim. Four objections are marshalled against the psychological–self strategy: (1) the psychological notion of the self fails to capture all of our intuitions about selfhood; (2) some of the intuitions to which proponents of a psychological notion of the self appeal are drawn from irrelevant or misleading ethical and epistemological aspects of certain examples they consider; (3) the arguments developed on the basis of a psychological notion of the self do not answer Lucretius in the right way; and (4) the psychological–self explanation overlooks an important distinction between awareness–dependent and awareness–independent explanations. While the psychological–self explanation of the asymmetry in our attitudes toward the time of our birth and the time of our death may explain why Nagel, Kaufman and Belshaw have asymmetric attitudes, it fails to explain why most people have such attitudes.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pettigrove, Professor Glen
Authors: Pettigrove, G.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0279-0750
ISSN (Online):1468-0114
Published Online:17 December 2002

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record