「死者に鞭打つ」ことは可能か--死者に対する危害に関する一考察 [in Japanese] Can we whip the dead?: a philosophical examination of posthumous harm [in Japanese]
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There is a Japanese expression "whipping the dead." This derives from a historical event in China. Wu Zixu, whose father and brothers had been killed by King Ping of Chu, exhumed the dead body of the King from his tomb and whipped it three hundred times as a kind of revenge. In Japan, this expression became an idiom that refers to when we blame and attack the antemonem words and deeds of the deceased. We use this idiom to teach that we have to refrain from blaming the deceased if it diminishes his or her memory; for example, "Because the professor has already died, you should not blame his remarks in his later years. This is because you whip the dead if you blame him." Why should we care about the deceased in this way? Do we harm the dead by blaming them now? Can we harm a person who has already died? Ifwe can, what harm is it ?<改行> To begin with, in order that a person can receive profit or injury from an event, he or she must exist when it happens. That is, if "the Existence Condition" nothing bad can happen to a person unless he or she exists at that time - is valid, no harm will be caused to the dead. However, does not this conclusion contradict our intuition that even the dead can be subjected to the negative effects of our actions ? It seems that we generally think that we should avoid condemning the deceased's antemonem words, deeds, and achievements. Then, does the precept that we should not blame the dead imply that we should not blame a person (though he or she is living) who is presently absent? That is, do we think of it as proper etiquette that we should not blame a person who cannot argue against us? Or, do we think that we should not out of consideration for the bereaved family ?<改行> However, the reason that it is important for the absent living to argue against condemning him or her is that there are real interests that he or she wants to protect. But there are no such interests for the deceased because he or she now is not a subject who can have them. So the reason that it is impossible to rebut blame is begging the question in the case of the deceased if the Existence Condition is valid. Moreover, if the bereaved family and related parties are now non-existent, can we be permitted to deliver any blame on the deceased? If so, do we need not respect the wishes of the deceased who has no relatives at all ? <改行> In order to defend our intuition, there are two ways in which we can insist that people can receive harm and profit from events that happen posthumously. One way is that we can argue that some interests of the deceased can survive his or her death, and their fulfillment being obstmcted harms the antemortem person. The other is that we can argue that, because the will of the deceased does not continue to exist in the mode of interests, he or she cannot undergo "real change" by posthumous events-but can undergo a "Cambridge change (relational change)." <改行> In this article, through examining these two standpoints, I consider whether our (Japanese) intuition that we should not condemn the deceased and that we should respect the living will of the deceased is valid from the perspective of the philosophy of death. Then, in light of these considerations, I make a proposal on some of the issues surrounding organ transplantation in Japanese society. I insist that we cannot harm the deceased, but can wrong him or her.
死生学研究 (12), 149-129, 2009-10