The University of York The Open University





Programme, abstracts and drafts

Organizers and sponsors


The Open University and The University of York UK
17th and 18th July 2008

A conference on the nature and significance of death, organized by the Philosophy Departments of the Open University and the University of York. The conference was held at the University of York’s Heslington campus.

The conference has now taken place, but this website will stay live as a record of the event and a home for resources related to it.


Questions about death include the ethical (Is killing wrong? Should abortion and euthanasia be permitted?); the axiological (Is it bad to die? Which deaths are worse?); and the metaphysical (What is death? Do the dead exist?) Although the ethical questions have, in recent years, been very much discussed, the underlying issues in value and theory have received considerably less attention. Yet these issues are far from settled. Scientific advances are continuing to raise questions about what constitutes death, while both science and science fiction suggest novel possibilities for postponing it. Evolving theories of personhood and personal identity are prompting new questions about the importance of death, while recent work on emotion offers to throw fresh light on our responses to bereavement and to the prospect of death.

This conference drew together philosophers working in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and ethics to address a range of fundamental issues about the nature and significance of death.

University of York campus

University of York campus
University of York campus