Why Live Forever? What Metaphysics Can Contribute

Aaron Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I suggest a way in which metaphysics might cure us of our desire for immortality. Supposing that time is composed of instants, or even that time could be composed of instants, leads to the conclusion that there is nothing good that immortality offers, nothing we might reasonably want, that is in principle unavailable to a mere mortal. My argument proceeds in three stages. First, I suggest a necessary condition for a feature to ground the desirability of a life or a portion thereof. Second, after distinguishing between three different features that could plausibly be meant by ’immortality’, I argue that if time could be composed of instants, only one of those features satisfies the necessary condition, and it evidently fails to ground the desirability of a life. Third, I argue that no feature that entails any of the three features grounds the desirability of a life either. I conclude with reflections on what this means for our longing for immortality.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)185-204
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was made possible by a grant from the UC-Riverside Immortality Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. I am most appreciative for their support. I would like to thank audiences at the Immortality Project capstone conference, the Fordham University Mind and Metaphysics Workshop, and the Hebrew University philosophy department colloquium, at which I presented versions of this paper, for their insightful comments and questions. Two anonymous referees for this journal provided invaluable feedback that certainly improved the paper, for which I am most grateful.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


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