Vol. 2 No. 1 (2020): Simon Fraser University Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy

Determined to Die

Published 2020-10-21


  • Pessimism,
  • David Benetar,
  • Deprivation Account,
  • Death


The object of this paper is to demonstrate that a rational fear of death is unsupportable and, in all likelihood, counterproductive to the general pursuit of a ‘good’ life. To this end I examine three principal arguments for the alleged badness of death advanced by David Benatar, arguments which form much of the foundation for a rational fear of death. For Benatar, the ‘badness’ of death is held to stem from its attendant suffering, deprivation of future potential ‘goods,’ and annihilation of one principal ‘good’-one’s biographical self. In response to the first assertion, I present a modified epicurean view, holding suffering to be more appropriately associated with the phenomenon of life than death. To the second, I present the inevitability of death as nihilating all future possibilities, undermining claims of genuine deprivation. Finally, I examine the asserted ‘badness’ of the annihilation of one’s self, arguing that such an evaluation ultimately rests on a modified version of the deprivation account, an argument which itself is nullified by the very phenomenon of annihilation. If the asserted ‘badness’ of death may thus be rejected, there seems little reason to consciously fear death, though it may still arouse an instinctive revulsion among those it has yet to afflict.