The Symmetry Problem

Roy Sorensen

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195388923
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Symmetry Problem


This chapter analyzes the symmetry problem related to the philosophy of death. It offers solutions to the trilemma that “your posthumous nonexistence is bad for you,” “your prevital nonexistence is not bad for you” and “there is no relevant difference between your posthumous nonexistence and your prevital nonexistence.” The chapter also discusses several symmetry arguments, which include the symmetricized no-subject argument, reversing the symmetry, and the Nagelian Renaissance. It furthermore suggests that we care more about “personal time” than about time itself.

Keywords: symmetry problem; philosophy of death; posthumous nonexistence; prevital nonexistence; no-subject argument; Nagelian Renaissance; personal time

Article.  8889 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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