I'm a mere beginner to philosophy and here, I'm not asking about philosophy or any abstraction about, but rather just the logic or strength of the argument for this essay topic: 'Does it matter if some animal and plant species die out?'

Let us approach this question by asking, first, the more dramatic question: Does it matter if all animal and plant species die out? In other words, would the end of the world be important? You might think that, if anything is important, the end of the world is important. But that is not so obvious.

Some philosophers raise the question of whether death matters. The challenge is to show how death can matter to the person who is dead. After all, she is not around to miss her life. It is no answer to say that she has to go through the process of dying first, which can be painful or scary. That only shows that the process of dying can matter to the person going through it. If death is sudden, there is no process of dying. Without the process, how can death matter to the dead person?

It may not matter to the dead person, but doesn't it still matter to those left behind? Usually it does. But this is where we arrive at the challenge of explaining why the end of the world matters. Suppose we all die together and instantaneously. Then nobody is left behind. This seems to prove that the death of all people matters less than the death of one, some, or most people. If we are going to die instantaneously, it is better if we all do, because then there is nobody and nothing left behind to experience the loss and its other nasty consequences. (Think of all the Mad-Max-style 'survivor' stories premissed on how much worse it is to be one of those left behind.)

The bolded seems a fatuous, vague, weak, and ineffective step in the argument. One could argue that 'death' is unknown to all living and thus refute this point. Even with 'the process', death may be hell which does 'matter to the dead person.' Or did I misinterpret the argumentation?

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I'm not sure what you mean when you say, The bolded seems a fatuous, vague, weak, and ineffective step in the argument.. Much of how I would respond would be determined by the context in which your question is asked, but as a stand alone argument, "How can death matter to the dead person?" is solid; it just depends upon what it is being used to argue for.

We can assume that this paper doesn't expect the post-death states (hell/heaven) to exist - or at least that they are not relevant for his argument. So we can cross those out - or at least we should cross them out if we are going to find a logical place to stand in defining a response. It is not wrong to consider hell or heaven as a counterpoint, but they are only useful in poking holes in the argument - the existence of heaven or hell is not known and therefore shouldn't be the backbone of any refutation.

Aside from that, there are several points to consider:

Does it matter if all plant and animal life dies out? The answer is less obvious than the author of the essay suggests.

On one hand, if we all die simultaneously without any pain or suffering, then to every human being it should matter exactly none. Why? "How can death matter to a dead person?" There is no one left to suffer the loss of anyone else, and thus there is no one left to suffer; no resounding pain; no sense of loss; just silence.

I have often thought to myself that the thought of my own death seems sad - if only for the mental image I have of people suffering after I'm gone. But if I die AND so does everyone else; there is no sadness. It just is.

That said; the author's definition of mattering is unclear. Upon inspection, the 'not mattering' argument can be used anywhere. If human life seems to matter - does that mattering lack consequences apart from those felt by other humans? If so, then it doesn't matter if I suffer - since my suffering will surely cease when I die - and so forth.

If we elevate mattering to humans as the pinnacle of all mattering, then we can argue that live or die, nothing matters at all, since we are inherently insignificant - so much so that as soon as our species disappears, mattering goes with it. In other words; if the only thing that matters is what matters to humans; then what matters doesn't matter that much at all.

If, however, we allow for the possibility that while human mattering is important to humans, there maybe greater matterings than those we can observe from our constrained human viewpoint, then perhaps the death of all life on earth matters a great deal.

We can't know this either way; and the author knows this. What we can know is that one's being and existence can be given by the perspective that they subscribe to.

The being and existence of one who believes that all life dying would be superior to somebody dying is going to be different than the being and existence of one who considers that there is some greater mattering that gives human existence value.

I don't know which way of being would be preferable, or whether either view provides an obvious state of existence that accompanies said view; I can only infer that one's existence would differ depending where they stood.

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    +1 for stating that the existence of any post-death state is unknown and is therefore not a solid foundation for any counter arguments.
    – KnightHawk
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 15:37

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