Title: Death and the self
Abstract: Many revolutionary positions in philosophy – skepticism, materialism, hard determinism – have disturbing implications. By contrast, the revolutionary idea that there is no persisting self is supposed to have generally beneficial consequences. Insofar as the self does not persist, one should be more generous to others, less punitive, and have less fear of death. This talk will report recent experiments indicating that changing beliefs about the persistence of self does affect generosity and punitiveness. For attitudes about the self and death, we examined responses from Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists and Westerners; the results are complex and surprising.
Shaun Nichols is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on the psychological underpinnings of ordinary thinking about philosophical issues.He is the author of Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment (OUP, 2004) and co-author (with Stephen Stich) of Mindreading (OUP, 2003). He is editor of The Architecture of the Imagination (OUP, 2006) and co-editor of Experimental Philosophy (with Joshua Knobe; OUP, 2008; 2014). He has also published over 100 articles at the intersection of philosophy and psychology.