David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (1):6-26 (2009)
Neuroimaging studies of brain-damaged patients diagnosed as in the vegetative state suggest that the patients might be conscious. This might seem to raise no new ethical questions given that in related disputes both sides agree that evidence for consciousness gives strong reason to preserve life. We question this assumption. We clarify the widely held but obscure principle that consciousness is morally significant. It is hard to apply this principle to difficult cases given that philosophers of mind distinguish between a range of notions of consciousness and that is unclear which of these is assumed by the principle. We suggest that the morally relevant notion is that of phenomenal consciousness and then use our analysis to interpret cases of brain damage. We argue that enjoyment of consciousness might actually give stronger moral reasons not to preserve a patient's life and, indeed, that these might be stronger when patients retain significant cognitive function
|Keywords||Neuroimaging Vegetative State Consciousness Minimally conscious state Locked-in syndrome|
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Citations of this work BETA
Anil Gomes, Matthew Parrott & Joshua Shepherd (forthcoming). More Dead Than Dead? Attributing Mentality to Vegetative State Patients. Philosophical Psychology:1-12.
Carl E. Fisher & Paul S. Appelbaum (2010). Diagnosing Consciousness: Neuroimaging, Law, and the Vegetative State. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 38 (2):374-385.
Sebastian Rödl (2014). Leben und Moral. Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft Und Ethik 18 (1).
L. B. McCullough (2009). Tracking the Variability of Authority and Power in the Physician-Patient Relationship. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (1):1-5.
Dominic Wilkinson, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2008). “Neglected Personhood” and Neglected Questions: Remarks on the Moral Significance of Consciousness. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (9):31 – 33.
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