Imagine you were to die tomorrow. Would you have lost anything? Galen Strawson doesn’t think so. In one of Strawson’s short essays, “I Have no Future”, which appears in his book, Things that Bother me Death, Freedom, The Self, etc., he makes a claim he calls No Ownership (of the future), that our future experiences don’t belong to us in such a way that they’re something that can be taken from us. In other words, we lose nothing if we die because we never had anything in the first place. In what follows, I will briefly outline Strawson’s argument before critically discussing it.
Morality is concerned with right and wrong, good and bad. While there are a number of different moral systems and they all justify their values in different ways, few of them disagree on exactly what those core values are. Whether kindness is good because it maximises happiness or because it’s what a virtuous person would do or because we can will that it should become a universal law, no moral system worthy of the name ‘morality’ goes so far as to question the value of kindness itself. This is where Nietzsche comes in. In his On the Genealogy of Morals he does just this, calling our values into question by attempting to uncover exactly where they come from and, in the process, showing us that, far from tenets carved in stone we are beholden to, they are contingent rules we have ourselves devised. In this essay, I will outline and critically discuss a few of the key concepts from the book.