Ethics of Biography: What Moral Considerations Do We Owe the Dead?

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dc.contributor.advisor Dare, Tim Syron, Helen 2022-08-10T03:45:43Z 2022-08-10T03:45:43Z 2021 en
dc.description.abstract It can be very satisfying to read a biography about a person, who is now deceased. The biographer treats the reader to a view of a person’s complete life, illuminated by a combination of both known and unknown events and actions. If the person was still alive, revelation of some of those private matters may appear, somewhat, unseemly. Yet, somehow, it seems acceptable to know all and sundry about a person once they are dead. And why should it be any other way? If the point of biography is to help us understand more about the human experience then perhaps we should consider it morally laudable to examine the lives of dead people, in depth. After all, being dead they are beyond harm and, consequently, no moral consideration is owed them. Contrary to this view, in this thesis, I set out a case which argues that the moral relevance of a person should endure beyond their biological demise. It is an argument based purely on prudential reasons. If death deprives me of my moral relevance, I will have no moral obligations to you, after my biological demise. As a result, I am not required to consider the consequences of my actions which may negatively affect you after my death. Yet both good and bad things can occur beyond one’s lifetime. Where we retain our moral relevance, we are correspondingly required to act with those future outcomes in mind. In the context of biography, the enduring moral relevance of the formerly living would require the biographer to act consistent with the claims and obligations owed that moral relevance. Where the enduring claims and obligations of a formerly living person conflict with those of the biographer, then a framework for resolving conflicts is required. The framework I propose, herein, adjudicates the inevitable moral conflicts, on their capacity to procure the object of being ascribed a moral relevance in the first place. If the point of being ascribed a moral relevance is to make things go better for us all, then whosoever’s claims will achieve this should be privileged.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
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dc.title Ethics of Biography: What Moral Considerations Do We Owe the Dead?
dc.type Thesis en Philosophy The University of Auckland en Masters en 2022-07-05T08:38:53Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: the author en
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