Sample Philosophy Research Paper on George Pitcher

According to Pitcher, dead people can be wronged or harmed after they are dead. Summarize Pitcher’s view and take a position on whether he is right about this or not.

Whether, George Pitcher’s idea that dead people can be wronged or harmed after they are dead, is true or false is an issue that is supported by Nagel and Feinberg while at the same time draws debate from other philosophers. For instance, Epicurean posits that neither death nor anything that occurs later can harm those who die, because people who die are made to suffer as a result of either. Consequently, this paper will summarize Pitcher’s view on the subject and take a stance on the analysis.

George Pitcher’s questions whether the dead can be harmed and he goes on to support this. He first differentiates between an ante-mortem person and a post-mortem person. He says that when a dead person is wronged or harmed, the victim is the ante-mortem person and it does not involve backward causation, altering his past. He states that ante-mortem person is harmed by his death since he was already harmed while still alive by the truth that death would later happen. Although both ante-mortem and post-mortem persons can be described after their death. Only ante-mortem persons can be wronged after their death. All wrongs committed against the dead are committed against their ante-mortem selves because post-mortem persons are just dust and dust cannot be wronged or harmed. Pitcher argues that something can happen after person’s death and harm the living person he was before he died. He interprets that an event or state of affairs harms someone when is against his vital desires or interest.

. While Pitcher posits that ante-mortem person can be harmed after his death, this idea is challenged by fact that it would have to alter his past a thing that he tries to refute that there is no backward causation. Since an event can cause harm on person’s death and darken his ante-mortem life. He admits that an ante-mortem person can be harmed by events that happen after his death. Though this implies that when sad post-mortem events happen, they can harm ante-mortem person. Pitcher notes. “An ante-mortem person is harmed by sad event after his death is: the happening of events makes it true that during the time before the person’s death he was harmed in that the unfortunate event was going to happen. If the event should not occur, the ante-mortem person would not have been so harmed. Thus, occurrence of the post-mortem event is responsible for the ante-mortem harm.” 

There is no correct answer to this question; can the dead people be harmed after they are dead? Rather, it depends on whether or not the person’s interests are thwarted by death as Pitcher posits.

In reference to Pitcher, “Post-mortem persons are just so much dust and dust cannot be harmed or wronged.” (161), I opine that postmortem person cannot be harmed and it is not correct since a dead person cannot be harmed because if a person is dead then there is no subject to be harmed. In addition, I believe the person who is harmed is the ante-mortem though it must involve a backward causation or altering of the past, a thing that Pitcher avoids by stating that ,” An ante-mortem person is harmed by sad event after his death.” Thus, I believe that something likely to happen after the death cannot harm the person before her death and there must be a subject to be harmed. Furthermore, Pitcher wants one to agree that there is no backwards causation when he notes that something after one’s death can harm the person that existed before death without claiming that there is something like backwards. Thus, I refute the idea that something occurring in the future can affect the past without positing backwards causation.

In sum, philosophers like Nagel, Feinberg and Pitcher defends mortem thesis that death may harm those who die and postmortem thesis; that posthumous events may harm those who die. Pitcher notes that something is harm or a misfortune to someone if it is contrary to one of his or her important desires or interests. To him the ante-mortem (before death) and postmortem (after death) person can be harmed.

Suffice is to say, If ante-mortem person can be harmed after his death, this means there would be backward causation and since the dead person cannot be changed it remains that ante-mortem person cannot be harmed after his death.