Faculty of Social Sciences

Death and the Self: A Metaphysical Investigation of the Rationality of Afterlife Beliefs in the Contemporary Intellectual Climate

  • Date: 12/15/2017 at 1:15 PM
  • Location: Geijersalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: Eddebo, Johan
  • Website
  • Organizer: Religionsfilosofi
  • Contact person: Eddebo, Johan
  • Disputation

This dissertation's purpose is to test the hypothesis that beliefs in the possibility of post-mortem survival can be rationally held within the context of the contemporary scientific and philosophical environment. In terms of criteria of rationality, a basic evidentialism is assumed, such that propositions which are sufficiently supported by the available evidence can be rationally held. With regard to the compatibility with contemporary science and philosophy, it follows as a further criterion that the relevant evidence must be satisfactorily anchored within the framework of these traditions.

The relevant evidence concerns two levels. First, the basic level of the conceptual coherence of afterlife beliefs is addressed, so that the logical possibility of post-mortem survival can be established. Secondly, the viability of the metaphysics which are implied in the support of the logical possibility (i.e. the metaphysics needed to actualize post-mortem survival) is defended, establishing the metaphysical possibility of post-mortem survival. At this stage, reductive physicalism, which is the only position that effectively undermines post-mortem survival, is criticized, and the problem of interaction which burdens several of the survival-enabling ontologies is addressed.

As for the criterion of scientific compatibility, it is further shown that contemporary physics are compatible with the survival-enabling metaphysics, and that contemporary physics can be argued to provide a moderate positive relevance with regard to these positions.

The conclusion drawn is that belief in the possibility of post-mortem survival is not only rationally permissible within the framework of contemporary science and philosophy, but also rationally obligatory, i.e. that this possibility cannot rationally be denied with regard to the reviewed evidence.