The Possibility of Posthumous Harm

T. M. Wilkinson

in Ethics and the Acquisition of Organs

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199607860
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731747 | DOI:

Series: Issues in Biomedical Ethics

The Possibility of Posthumous Harm

Show Summary Details


Why should the wishes of the dead be given weight? An intellectually satisfying answer requires drawing on and applying the substantial philosophical literature on the possibility of posthumous harm. This chapter defends the view that people can be harmed by events that occur after their deaths. It rejects criticisms based on an ‘experience requirement’ for well‐being or on the ‘problem of the subject’. The account given here, which substantially follows Pitcher's and Feinberg's, argues that whether people's goals are fulfilled could depend on posthumous events and that the non‐fulfilment of their goals could harm them in important ways that do not depend on backwards causation. The chapter concludes by connecting the account to organ retrieval.

Keywords: posthumous harm; well‐being; goals; Pitcher; Feinberg; backwards causation

Chapter.  8281 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.