By Christopher Belshaw
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Extra resources for Annihilation: The Sense and Significance of Death
But “might return” here is intentionally ambiguous. Strain is considerable if we imagine actual cases featuring such returns. It is minor, and perhaps bearable, if we consider only that the remote physical possibility of such return cannot be ruled out. Our ordinary thinking about death has not extended that far. In the end, then, we are reasonably clear about the reversibility condition. And I think we are clearer about this than about the other two matters discussed above, concerning organisms and functioning.
But consider the points he makes about some imaginary situation, where a “little green man” steps out of a flying saucer and performs in various human-like ways, including offering to scientists here a sample of his “skin”, which proves to contain neither of the substances mentioned above. The scientists say: The Martian is alive, but he contains no dna or rna. : 50) And for Feldman this seems not to be self-contradictory. It could be true, and hence the failure of the definition. But could it be true that the Martian is alive?
But I am not dead. So, clearly, 30 definitions something here has to give. In another puzzle case all the parts are working, and are linked, but the link goes via some external mechanism. The sound and picture are synchronized, but only if the engineer is constantly tweaking the controls. Or someone remains alive, but only if an array of machines coordinate the functioning of the different organs. Suppose we try to circumvent these problems by suggesting that for integrated holistic functioning all that is needed is that a thing do, to some degree, what it is supposed to do.