The comatose patient, the ontology of death, and the decision to stop treatment

Abstract
In this paper I address three problems posed by modern medical technology regarding comatose dying patients. The first is that physicians sometimes hide behind the tests for whole-brain death rather than make the necessary human decision. The second is that the tests themselves betray a metaphysical judgment about death that may be ontologically faulty. The third is that discretion used by physicians and patients and/or family in deciding to cease treatment when the whole-brain death criteria may not be met are sometimes open to challenge. In each of these problems I find that the operative concept of death relates to life itself. This point is expanded by examining the uses of the word death in our language and culture. From these I formulate an initial ontology of death. In it, death is described through a relationship with life, rather than as an absence of life, of consciousness, awareness, or sensation. This ontology then leads to a proposal for an ethics of discretion about the discontinuation of treatment for comatose patients.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    18 ( #78,321 of 1,089,153 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,735 of 1,089,153 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.