David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Progress in Brain Research (2009)
Recent work in neuroimaging suggests that some patients diagnosed as being in the persistent vegetative state are actually conscious. In this paper, we critically examine this new evidence. We argue that though it remains open to alternative interpretations, it strongly suggests the presence of consciousness in some patients. However, we argue that its ethical significance is less than many people seem to think. There are several different kinds of consciousness, and though all kinds of consciousness have some ethical significance, different kinds underwrite different kinds of moral value. Demonstrating that patients have phenomenal consciousness — conscious states with some kind of qualitative feel to them — shows that they are moral patients, whose welfare must be taken into consideration. But only if they are subjects of a sophisticated kind of access consciousness — where access consciousness entails global availability of information to cognitive systems — are they persons, in the technical sense of the word employed by philosophers. In this sense, being a person is having the full moral status of ordinary human beings. We call for further research which might settle whether patients who manifest signs of consciousness possess the sophisticated kind of access consciousness required for personhood.
|Keywords||consciousness persistent vegetative state minimally conscious state morality|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Ralf J. Jox & Katja Kuehlmeyer (2013). Introduction: Reconsidering Disorders of Consciousness in Light of Neuroscientific Evidence. Neuroethics 6 (1):1-3.
Carl E. Fisher & Paul S. Appelbaum (2010). Diagnosing Consciousness: Neuroimaging, Law, and the Vegetative State. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 38 (2):374-385.
Similar books and articles
David M. Rosenthal (2002). How Many Kinds of Consciousness? Consciousness and Cognition 11 (4):653-665.
Alexander A. Fingelkurts, Andrew A. Fingelkurts, Sergio Bagnato, Cristina Boccagni & Giuseppe Galardi (2012). EEG Oscillatory States as Neuro-Phenomenology of Consciousness as Revealed From Patients in Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States. Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):149-169.
Greg Janzen (2005). Self-Consciousness and Phenomenal Character. Dialogue 44 (4):707-733.
Quentin Noirhomme & Caroline Schnakers, A Twitch of Consciousness: Defining the Boundaries of Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States.
Jakob Hohwy & David Reutens (2009). A Case for Increased Caution in End of Life Decisions for Disorders of Consciousness. Monash Bioethics 28 (2):13.1-13.13.
Jukka Varelius (2009). Minimally Conscious State and Human Dignity. Neuroethics 2 (1):35-50.
Nicholas Shea & Tim Bayne (2010). The Vegetative State and the Science of Consciousness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):459.
Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu (2009). Brain-Damaged Patients and the Moral Significance of Consciousness. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (1):6-26.
Added to index2010-02-05
Total downloads117 ( #8,037 of 1,098,987 )
Recent downloads (6 months)26 ( #4,538 of 1,098,987 )
How can I increase my downloads?