Our Stories

Our Stories : Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will

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In this collection of essays on the metaphysical issues pertaining to death, the meaning of life, and freedom of the will, John Martin Fischer argues (against the Epicureans) that death can be a bad thing for the individual who dies. He defends the claim that something can be a bad thing-a misfortune-for an individual, even if he never experiences it as bad (and even if he does not any longer exist). Fischer also defends the commonsense asymmetry in our attitudes
toward death and prenatal nonexistence: we are indifferent to the time before we are born, but we regret that we do not live longer. Further, Fischer argues (against the immortality curmudgeons, such as Heidegger and Bernard Williams), that immortal life could be desirable, and shows how the defense
of the (possible) badness of death and the (possible) goodness of immortality exhibit a similar structure; on Fischer's view, the badness of death and the goodness of life can be represented on spectra that display certain continuities.

Building on Fischer's previous book, My Way a major aim of this volume is to show important connections between issues relating to life and death and issues relating to free will. More specifically, Fischer argues that we endow our lives with a certain distinctive kind of meaning-an irreducible narrative dimension of value-by exhibiting free will. Thus, in acting freely, we transform our lives so that our stories matter.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 163 x 243 x 20mm | 441g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195374959
  • 9780195374957
  • 2,349,137

Table of contents

1. Introduction, "Meaning in Life and Death: Our Stories" ; 2. "Why is Death Bad?" ; 3. "Death, Badness, and the Impossibility of Experience" ; 4. "Death and the Psychological Conception of Personal Identity" ; 5. "Earlier Birth and Later Death: Symmetry Through Thick and Thin" ; 6. "Why Immortality is Not So Bad" ; 7. "Epicureanism About Death and Immortality" ; 8. "Stories" ; 9. "Free Will, Death, and Immortality: The Role of Narrative" ; 10. "Stories and the Meaning of Life"
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Review quote

a provocative work whose constitutive essays provide both an overview of the landscape of the debates in which Fischer is engaging... as well as productive engagement in their technicalities... applied philosophy at its best. * James Stacey Taylor, Mind *
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About John Martin Fischer

John Martin Fischer is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside.
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