The lecture explores the question of the state of being dead. Even though the most logical claim seems to be that when a person stops P-functioning he or she is dead, a more careful consideration must allow for exceptions, such as when one is asleep or in a coma. Professor Kagan then suggests that on some level nobody believes that he or she is going to die. As a case in point, he takes Tolstoy's famous character Ivan Ilych.
There is one thing I can be sure of: I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact? This course will examine a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. The possibility that death may not actually be the end is considered. Are we, in some sense, immortal? Would immortality be desirable? Also a clearer notion of what it is to die is examined. What does it mean to say that a person has died? What kind of fact is that? And, finally, different attitudes to death are evaluated. Is death an evil? How? Why? Is suicide morally permissible? Is it rational? How should the knowledge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life?
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