Can a person imagine doing something while doing the thing imagined? For example, can I imagine touching a key on my keyboard while touching it?

I think it is easy to imagine things that you are presently doing that you don't realize that you are presently doing, as in Peter's Luxembourg example, above. More interesting is whether you can imagine things that you do realize that you are presently doing. Peter's example of the naked supermarket shopper, also above, is underdescribed in this way -- does the absentminded philosopher know he's naked in the supermarket when he's imagining it? If you are inclined to think that you can't imagine something that you know you are presently doing, then to make sense of the naked supermarket shopper case you might have to think of it this way: Professor McAbsentminded heads out of his house, unaware that he is naked, and unaware that he ends up in the grocery store. While he is then -- unbeknownest to himself -- standing naked in the grocery store, he imagines himself standing naked in the grocery store. I'm not inclined to put this restriction on imagining, however. I think we can...

Assuming that there is no afterlife -- that you lose the ability to think or feel anything once your body dies -- is it irrational to fear death? Asked another way: Was Larkin wrong when he described the philosopher's contention that "no rational being can fear a thing it will not feel" as "specious stuff"?

The reasoning that in the absence of an afterlife it would be irrational to fear death dates back at least to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, who wrote: "Accustom yourself to the belief that death is nothing to us. For all good and evil lie in sensation, whereas death is the absence of sensation… Therefore, that most frightful of evils, death, is nothing to us, seeing that when we exist death is not present, and when death is present we do not exist." There is a good collection of essays edited by John Martin Fischer called The Metaphysics of Death on this subject. Of particular interest to you might be the essay "Death" by Tom Nagel. Nagel argues (along similar lines to those used by Peter Lipton above) that there are things that can harm us (and thus that it would be rational to fear) that occur outside of our experience. Thus the mere fact that death is outside of our experience does not mean that it would be irrational to fear it.

I've been away from academia since I dropped out of philosophy grad school in 1997, so I'm out of touch with recent developments in philosophy. What are the most significant philosophical books or papers of the past eight or so years? (My main areas of interest in grad school were metaphysics and philosophy of language, but I'd be interested in your answer whatever your specialty.)

If I could look back slightly farther than you asked to the last decade in philosophy of mind, I think one of the most important books published was David Chalmers' The Conscious Mind (1996). This book brought consciousness back to the forefront of discussion. One important trend in philosophy of mind in the last decade has been the advent of representationalism -- the view that consciousness (or what we might call phenomenal character) ultimately reduces to representational content. Important books on representationalism and related issues include Michael Tye's Ten Problems of Consciousness (1995), Fred Dretske's Naturalizing the Mind (1995), and Charles Siewert's The Significance of Consciousness (1998), though there are many others.

I am upset that people have started using 'it begs the question' to introduce a question. For instance, "it begs the question: why do people incorrectly use phrases?" So my question, which isn't begged, is this: as philosophers, don't we have a duty to correct people in this regard? Or, is this (incorrect) use something we can live with?

Perhaps you've seen it, but William Safire had a column in the New York Times magazine about this a few years ago. Language changes all the time, and words/phrases come to have new meanings. I agree with you that this particular change is frustrating philosophically, and it does make me kind of grumpy when I hear it, but that said, I'm not sure that there's much we can do about it. It seems to me that it's already too late -- in ordinary use, "beg the question" has already come to mean something like "raise the question." In philosophical discussion, of course, we can and should retain the original use of this phrase. I think of it much the way I do the terms "valid" and "sound". In ordinary conversation, it's perfectly acceptable to say "she makes a valid point" or "her point is sound", where both "valid" and "sound" are being used as synonyms for "true" or "plausible". But when discussing and evaluating arguments, we reserve the terms "valid" and "sound" as technical terms to apply...

Why is there no "happiness"ology? It seems that throughout history philosophy has strived to legitimize and analyze most basic human questions except that of what happiness is and how it is achieved. Is this accurate or am I mistaken?

In addition to the classical philosophical treatments of happiness that Jyl mentions, you might be interested to know that there is currently an interdisciplinary journal called The Journal of Happiness Studies which includes philosophical contributions.

How would you explain the color green to a blind child?

Many philosophers would say that you couldn't. This relates to Jackson's famous Mary case (previously discussed here - and originally laid out in Jackson's article "Epiphenomenal Qualia." ) Jackson asks us to suppose that Mary is a color scientist who has spent her entire life in a black and white room. Though she has learned all the physical science relating to color, she has never experienced color herself. Now imagine that one day she is let out of the room and shown a ripe tomato. Jackson supposes that we would have the intuition that she has now learned something new about color. "Aha," she might say to herself, "So that's what the color red looks like." In other words, despite knowing all the physical facts about color, Mary did not know what it is like to experience the color red. If you buy this argument, then it would seem to follow that even if you were to teach the blind child (who, I'm assuming, is blind from birth) all the physical science about the color green, you still...