The Morality Of Death In Peter Singer's Practical Ethics

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Peter Singer first presented the replaceability argument in the X chapter of Practical Ethics, when assessing the morality of killing. Is it possible to assess the wrongness of killing in utilitarian terms? Leaving aside indirect reasons (such as the grief of fear of others), a utilitarian could argue that killing someone negatively impacts on their well-being. Thus, first, it is necessary to determine whether the victim has been harmed by their death. In other words, it is imperative to address the question of the badness of death. Traditionally, philosophers (and lay people) have considered death harms the victim due to the deprivation it causes. Death takes our future from us, and with it, all possible future well-being. This position is frequently known as the deprivation account of the badness of death. This account implies, however, that death is not bad if the victim was destined to suffer a terrible future. This may not be a big problem in the discussion about the badness of death, as we are frequently happy to concede that some lives can be worse that death. Yet, if the wrongness of killing depends exclusively on the badness of death, this will imply that it is moral to kill people that is suffering with no hope of recovery, even if they desire to continue living. Still, the morality of killing could be assessed taking into account other factors besides the badness of death, such as the autonomy…show more content…
Even if death may curtail their possibility of future positive well-being, the victim is not around any more to experience that deprivation. Once the victim is dead, nothing can affect their level of well-being. So, although true that they are deprived of all future positive goods, they do not experience this deprivation. This is the argument Epicurus used to defeat the idea of the badness of death, and much of the philosophical enquiry about death today still deals with the Epicurean

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