Philosophy Question 1



Thepoint of conflict between Gretchen and her friends is on the issue ofpersonal identity. Her friends propose to her that when she dies shewill exist again and they will meet in heaven. This is the point ofcontroversy between them. For Gretchen, her view on personal identityis very different from that of her friends. She is convinced that aperson cannot still be the same after she dies. This is because thebody lots away and therefore it cannot be the same, body again. Togive a perfect example Gretchen gives the example of the kleenitbottle which after being destroyed cannot continue to be the samebottle again. Therefore, when a body is destroyed by rotting itcannot be the same body again [ CITATION Per78 l 1033 ].

Theidea of the memory view of personal identity is circular by Gretchenis from the argument by her friends. They seem to look at personalidentity as specifically being the immaterial nature of the person,the soul. Therefore, this soul will live to be the same no matterwhat happens to the body. The soul is held within the body and it isthe one that keeps the body alive. Once the body dies the soul thenlives the body to exist on its own. This soul is the one thatsurvives and when Miller tells Gretchen that they will meet onceagain when she dies she means that the souls will meet each other.Weirob then goes forth to describe the view of the two friends on thestate of personal identity. These friends refer to personal identityby the similarity of states of mind. This circular view holds thatthe soul is the same and does not change. Gretchen however challengesthis view by giving the example of the Blue River to show thatsimilarity does not always mean similar or the same. This is becausethough one may be able to identify a given point of the river todayand another time this does not mean that the same molecules of waterexist at all those times. The water that a person observed at thefirst time will not be the same that the person will observe thesecond time. Therefore, it would not be right to say that the samesoul that a person has today will be the same soul that a person willhave tomorrow. This imagination that there is a heavenly person thatis the real person that dies on earth is what Gretchen states as thecircle. That people go round the same thought [ CITATION Per78 l 1033 ].

Cohentries to break out of the circle by describing that the idea thatreal memory amounts to apparent memory plus identity is misleading.So as to ground this point Cohen picks an example where a young childdoes some thing but when the same person grows up, the idea of theperformed act is not in their mind. The person gets the informationabout whet they did as a child from the parents. This however doesnot amount to the fact that the person is not the one who performedthe act. Cohen is very successful in breaking out of the circle. Thisis because the situation that she brings out is accepted by Gretchenand gives Miller a more ground for defense [ CITATION Per78 l 1033 ].


ShallyKagan looks at the badness of death so as to be able to determinewhether death is really bad for person that experiences it. Theversion that seems to be the premises of Epicurus argument is thatthings should be dated. According to Epicurus, something is bad to aperson only when that person exists. Again, when a person dies thatperson ceases to exist. As a result death cannot be said to be bad tothat person if that person does not exist. Kagan states the factsthat are hard to swallow as being the facts of rejecting theexistence requirement so as to justify that death is bad. Accordingto Kagan, for something to be considered bad to a person that personneeds to be in existence at the time that thing take place. For thereto be a deprivation, a person must be present so as to be deprivedthe issue. A good example from Kagan is when a person is available towatch TV and therefore fails to attend a party. The person wasdeprived the goodness of going to the party by being present to watchthe TV. If that person was not there to watch the TV he would be atthe party. Therefore, a person who is in existence is the one thatfaces deprivation. According to Kagan, there is nothing that canhappen to a person that does not exist. For example taking an exampleof two people John and James, John stands besides a wall while Jamesstands on an open space. All of a sudden the wall falls on John andinjures him. James on the other hand is not hurt by the wall. John ishurt because he exists near the wall and James who is not near thewall is not affected. Therefore, we cannot separate the badness of anissue from the existence of the person who suffers from theoccurrence of the issue. Thus, if a person is dead then death doesnot deprive that person because in the first instance the person isnot available to lack. Kagan goes on to give the example of Larry whocan be a product of two people. If the two people do not get Larry noone can feel sorry for Larry because Larry does not even exist in thefirst instance [ CITATION Kag12 l 1033 ].

Theseimplications can only be avoided by changing the view and statingthat some thing can be bad for you only if you exist at some time orthe other. In this view, then death would be bad because the personwho dies used to exist in some other time. Taking an example where aperson tries to kill another person but dies before the person hetried to kill dies, because the person who had the intention ofkilling existed at a certain given time, then it would be taken thatthe person actually killed the other person despite the time thatboth of them died. The change of the existence from the time that theoccurrence happens to some time or the other gives the view a totallynew dimension and therefore is able to date an event as it happenedand look at how that event deprived a certain privilege if the personwould still be existing[ CITATION Kag12 l 1033 ].


Thereasoning by Kagan is that death is very bad for the person who diessince the occurrence of death denies that person a chance to live andenjoy life. Death takes away the privilege that a person shouldcontinue existing for a more time. Therefore, the person who suffersdeath does not enjoy life further since that person ceases to exist.However, it is not reasonable to fear death. When a person dies theydo not exist any more. Therefore, the person that dies can no longerbe available to enjoy any more life. This lack of existence amountsto the reason that this person will not be experiencing any lossbecause the person does not even exist. To give a close example,imagine a person who is in existence and is enjoying the privilege ofbeing given a very great token for a given achievement. Imagine thatthis person is denied the token. The person would be denied the rightto the token and this is wrong. Everyone would feel sympathy for theperson. Now consider an instance where the person does not exist andtherefore no one is to be given the token. No one would feel sympathyfor the oppression because in the first instance the person does notexist. The same way, when a person dies they stop existing. No personwho does not exist can have a privilege [ CITATION Kag12 l 1033 ].

Aperson should fear that thing that will affect him directly. Kagancites three conditions that are appropriate for people to fear. Thefirst condition is that for us to fear something then that thing mustbe bad. Therefore, if we anticipate that a certain event will be badto us then the fear of that event occurs. The second condition is thepossibility of a non negligible chance of the bad state of affairs tohappen. When there is a perception that there is a certainty of anevent happening then the people would fear that event. The thirdcondition is that for fear to be appropriate there is uncertainty ofthe bad thing will actually happen. For example people would fear tobe kidnapped by aliens who would eat them alive. This fear developsnot because the people are aware that the thing will happen butbecause they are not certain if the issue will happen. People feardeath because they fear of what will happen after they die. They donot know where they will go to after their death. They fear going toa new world and meeting new things. People also fear of losing allthat they have when they die. Many people are possessive and fearlosing their wealth and all that they have gained. Therefore, theywish that they would not die to maintain all that they have. Thereare also people who fear because they feel that they would not beable to see their friends again and that they would live a lonelylife after death. Kagan thinks it is not appropriate to fear thesethings because once we die we cease to exist and therefore nothingcan really affect us. Therefore we should not fear of that which wecannot experience [ CITATION Kag12 l 1033 ].


Kagan, S. (2012 ). Death. New Haven : Yale University Press.

Perry, J. (1978). A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.