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New Bioeth. 2017 Nov;23(3):249-260. doi: 10.1080/20502877.2017.1387388. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

The Moral Inadequacy of Cremation.

Author information

1
a School of Medicine , Cardiff University , Cardiff , UK.

Abstract

Cremation has substantial practical benefits. Not only is it much cheaper than traditional burial, but it also comes without its ecological burden. Despite this, we argue that cremation is an inadequate way of disposing of the dead because it entails the destruction of community memory, and, by extension, community and individual identity. It deprives the living of these benefits, while also treating the dead in way which goes against common intuitions about personhood, anthropology and respect for the will of the deceased. Death is perhaps one of the most important subjects in philosophy, and by marginalising it through cremation and related practices, we deprive ourselves of its didactic and social uses. The case we make against cremation is not absolute, but we hope it succeeds in casting doubt on the presumed neutrality of cremation. Our essay is under three heads: (1) we consider the practical benefits of cremation; (2) we reconsider the value of cremation in light of what it deprives individuals and communities of and; (3) we analyse the significance of the corpse in regard to cremation.

KEYWORDS:

bioethics; corpse; cremation; death; ethics; memory

PMID:
29058571
DOI:
10.1080/20502877.2017.1387388
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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