Epicurus can, therefore, allow that a person was harmed by being unwittingly exposed to a carcinogen 10 years ago, but only if that exposure is responsible for the person in question later experiencing some intrinsic evil: some pain, for example.
Such a position puts Epicurus at odds with contemporary hedonists, such as Fred Feldman, who claim that there are harms that have no intrinsically evil effects. Many con- temporary hedonists accept the counterfactual account of harm.
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Proponents of the counterfactual account of harm hold that that which causes a person to have a smaller net total of intrinsic goods versus intrinsic evils than she otherwise would have had constitutes a harm. BOOK REVIEW The problem with this view, as Warren sees it, is that it goes too far, since it establishes that almost every death is a harm, the only exceptions being cases where death saves its victim from an otherwise miserable future. As such, the proponents of the counterfactual account of harm implausibly hold that everything that causes a person to have fewer intrinsic goods genuinely counts as a harm.
For example, although someone would be a lot better off if given a million dollars by a wealthy person, it does not follow that such a person will have been harmed if this does not occur. It seems, then, that that which causes a person to lack certain intrinsic goods counts as a harm only if the person in question could have reasonably expected to possess such goods.
But this is not an objection to the counterfactual account so much as a call for a more complete description of the account. For persons who have already lived a complete life death comes as no misfortune, but for persons who have yet to live a complete life and have the prospects of doing so if they continue to live, death is a misfortune. Of course, we still need to give an account of what a complete life is, but that we need to do so is no objection to the counterfactual account.
Warren does have another objection to the counterfactual account: that the support for it consists entirely of constructing scenarios that draw from us the intuition that a person can be harmed by what makes her worse off than she would otherwise have been even if she never realizes that she is worse off and even if she never anguishes over not having been better off. Warren objects that the staunch skeptic, such as Epicurus, will not be convinced by such examples and will claim that our intuition is unwarranted in such cases.
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But, other things being equal, we should accept the counterfactual account of harm over the Epicurean account if it comports better with our intuitions about when a harm has taken place. A better objection, then, would be that if we accept the counterfactual account of harm of death, we still need to account for the timing of that harm. But we should note that even if we accept the counterfactual account of harm, such acceptance does not mean that we will have reason to fear being dead. The state of being dead cannot be responsible for our experi- encing fewer intrinsic goods.
Only events could have such effects.
Thus, what we should fear is not being dead but events that could be lethal. Perhaps the counterfactual account of harm does not so much concern the fear of being dead as the fear of premature death.
Because this argument invokes a claim of symmetry between our past and future non-existence, it has come to be known as the symmetry argument. Warren immediately distin- guishes between two versions of the symmetry argument. Both versions share the same assumption about the symmetry of our past and future non-existence, but start from different claims about the past, and consequently end with two different conclusions about the future.
Prena- tal non-existence is relevantly like post mortem non-existence.
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Prenatal non-existence is rel- evantly like post mortem non existence. Warren provides a careful analysis of the relevant texts and explains that only the first version is supported by a careful reading of them. This is un- fortunate because then the symmetry argument establishes only that being dead will be nothing to us when we are dead. Since this is so, Warren considers what critics have said in response to both versions of the argument.
Such critics have, for the most part, denied the symmetry of past and future on which both versions rely.
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One objection is that, for reasons having to do with conditions for personal identity, it is metaphysically impossible to have been born ear- lier but possible to die later. Renan Virginio marked it as to-read Jun 22, Evil Shelley marked it as to-read Jan 20, Marcus marked it as to-read Jul 02, BookDB marked it as to-read Sep 17, Samuel Ke marked it as to-read Jan 18, Adam added it Mar 08, Jordan Hutchinson added it Apr 11, Leonardo marked it as to-read Jul 04, Ron Lunde marked it as to-read Aug 11, Izabela Gryz marked it as to-read May 01, Sami marked it as to-read Nov 04, Jake marked it as to-read Nov 18, Rami added it Jan 04, Talie marked it as to-read Jan 10, Mun marked it as to-read Jun 28, Mike marked it as to-read Jul 06, Frantisek Spinka added it Jul 13, Seven Negen marked it as to-read Sep 02, Daniel Hageman marked it as to-read Oct 08, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.
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Books by James Warren. Trivia About Facing Death: Epi No trivia or quizzes yet. James Warren. The ancient philosophical school of Epicureanism tried to argue that death is 'nothing to us'. Were they right? James Warren provides a comprehensive study and articulation of the interlocking arguments against the fear of death found not only in the writings of Epicurus himself, but also inLucretius' poem De rerum natura and in Philodemus' work De morte. These arguments are central to the Epicurean project of providing ataraxia freedom from anxiety and therefore central to an understanding of Epicureanism as a whole.