Saving People from the Harm of Death

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Espen Gamlund, Carl Tollef Solberg, Jeff McMahan
Oxford University Press, 2019 - Medical - 284 pages
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Death is something we mourn or fear as the worst thing that could happen--whether the deaths of close ones, the deaths of strangers in reported accidents or tragedies, or our own. And yet, being dead is something that no one can experience and live to describe. This simple truth raises a host
of difficult philosophical questions about the negativity surrounding our sense of death, and how and for whom exactly it is harmful. The question of whether death is bad has occupied philosophers for centuries, and the debate emerging in philosophical literature is referred to as the badness of
death. Are deaths primarily negative for the survivors, or does death also affect the deceased? What are the differences between death in fetal life, just after birth, or in adolescence? In order to properly evaluate deaths in global health, we must find answers to these questions.

In this volume, leading philosophers, medical doctors, and economists discuss different views on how to evaluate death and its relevance for health policy. This includes theories about the harm of death and its connections to population-level bioethics. For example, one of the standard views in
global health is that newborn deaths are among the worst types of death, yet stillbirths are neglected. This raises difficult questions about why birth is so significant, and several of the book's authors challenge this standard view.

This is the first volume to connect philosophical discussions on the harm of death with discussions on population health, adjusting the ways in which death is evaluated. Changing these evaluations has consequences for how we prioritize different health programs that affect individuals at different
ages, as well as how we understand inequality in health.

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About the author (2019)


Espen Gamlund professor of philosophy, University of Bergen
Carl Tollef Solberg Researcher, University of Bergen
Espen Gamlund is professor of philosophy at the University of Bergen, Norway. He specializes in moral philosophy and bioethics, and has published work on forgiveness, moral status of animals, death, and resource allocation in health. In addition, he has published on the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza.
Gamlund also runs a philosophy blog (in Norwegian), and in 2015 he won The Faculty of Humanities' prize for his research dissemination.

Carl Tollef Solberg is a philosopher and medical doctor at the University of Bergen and the University of Oslo. He specializes in bioethics and medical ethics and has published work on priority setting in health care, death, and medical ethics. Further, he has worked at several clinical levels of
the health care system. His research interests stand at the intersection of medicine and philosophy.

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