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  1. Diagnosing Death: The “Fuzzy Area” Between Life and Decomposition.María A. Carrasco & Luca Valera - forthcoming - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics:1-24.
    This paper aims to determine whether it is necessary to propose the extreme of putrefaction as the only unmistakable sign in diagnosing the death of the human organism, as David Oderberg does in a recent paper. To that end, we compare Oderberg’s claims to those of other authors who align with him in espousing the so-called theory of hylomorphism but who defend either a neurological or a circulatory-respiratory criterion for death. We then establish which interpretation of biological phenomena is the (...)
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  • Why Psychological Accounts of Personal Identity Can Accept a Brain Death Criterion and Biological Definition of Death.David B. Hershenov - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):403-418.
    Psychological accounts of personal identity claim that the human person is not identical to the human animal. Advocates of such accounts maintain that the definition and criterion of death for a human person should differ from the definition and criterion of death for a human animal. My contention is instead that psychological accounts of personal identity should have human persons dying deaths that are defined biologically, just like the deaths of human animals. Moreover, if brain death is the correct criterion (...)
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  • Whole-Brain Death and Integration: Realigning the Ontological Concept with Clinical Diagnostic Tests.Daniel P. Sulmasy - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):455-481.
    For decades, physicians, philosophers, theologians, lawyers, and the public considered brain death a settled issue. However, a series of recent cases in which individuals were declared brain dead yet physiologically maintained for prolonged periods of time has challenged the status quo. This signals a need for deeper reflection and reexamination of the underlying philosophical, scientific, and clinical issues at stake in defining death. In this paper, I consider four levels of philosophical inquiry regarding death: the ontological basis, actual states of (...)
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  • Organismal Death, the Dead-Donor Rule and the Ethics of Vital Organ Procurement.Xavier Symons & Reginald Mary Chua - 2018 - Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (12):868-871.
    Several bioethicists have recently discussed the complexity of defining human death, and considered in particular how our definition of death affects our understanding of the ethics of vital organ procurement. In this brief paper, we challenge the mainstream medical definition of human death—namely, that death is equivalent to total brain failure—and argue with Nair-Collins and Miller that integrated biological functions can continue even after total brain failure has occurred. We discuss the implications of Nair-Collins and Miller’s argument and suggest that (...)
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  • Do the ‘Brain Dead’ Merely Appear to Be Alive?Michael Nair-Collins & Franklin G. Miller - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (11):747-753.
    The established view regarding ‘brain death’ in medicine and medical ethics is that patients determined to be dead by neurological criteria are dead in terms of a biological conception of death, not a philosophical conception of personhood, a social construction or a legal fiction. Although such individuals show apparent signs of being alive, in reality they are dead, though this reality is masked by the intervention of medical technology. In this article, we argue that an appeal to the distinction between (...)
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  • The Organism as a Whole in an Analysis of Death.Andrew P. Huang & James L. Bernat - 2019 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 44 (6):712-731.
    Although death statutes permitting physicians to declare brain death are relatively uniform throughout the United States, academic debate persists over the equivalency of human death and brain death. Alan Shewmon showed that the formerly accepted integration rationale was conceptually incomplete by showing that brain-dead patients demonstrated a degree of integration. We provide a more complete rationale for the equivalency of human death and brain death by defending a deeper understanding of the organism as a whole and by using a novel (...)
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  • The human organism is not a conductorless orchestra: a defense of brain death as true biological death.Melissa Moschella - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):437-453.
    In this paper, I argue that brain death is death because, despite the appearance of genuine integration, the brain-dead body does not in fact possess the unity that is proper to a human organism. A brain-dead body is not a single entity, but a multitude of organs and tissues functioning in a coordinated manner with the help of artificial life support. In order to support this claim, I first lay out Hoffmann and Rosenkrantz’s ontological account of the requirements for organismal (...)
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  • A Holistic Understanding of Death: Ontological and Medical Considerations.Doyen Nguyen - 2018 - Diametros 55:44-62.
    In the ongoing ‘brain death’ controversy, there has been a constant push for the use of the ‘higher brain’ formulation as the criterion for the determination of death on the grounds that brain-dead individuals are no longer human beings because of their irreversible loss of consciousness and mental functions. This essay demonstrates that such a position flows from a Lockean view of human persons. Compared to the ‘consciousness-related definition of death,’ the substance view is superior, especially because it provides a (...)
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  • Brain Death and Organ Donation: A Crisis of Public Trust.Melissa Moschella - 2018 - Christian Bioethics 24 (2):133-150.
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  • What Demarks the Metamorphosis of Human Individuals to Posthuman Entities?Michal Pruski - 2019 - The New Bioethics 25 (1):3-23.
    Humans often seek to improve themselves, whether through self-discipline or through the use of science and technology. At some point in the future, techniques might become available that will change humans to such a degree that they might have to be regarded as something other than human: posthuman. This essay tries to define the point at which such a human-to-posthuman metamorphosis may occur. This is achieved by discerning what is it that makes human substance distinct, i.e. what is the human (...)
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  • When Are You Dead Enough to Be a Donor? Can Any Feasible Protocol for the Determination of Death on Circulatory Criteria Respect the Dead Donor Rule?Govert den Hartogh - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (4):299-319.
    The basic question concerning the compatibility of donation after circulatory death protocols with the dead donor rule is whether such protocols can guarantee that the loss of relevant biological functions is truly irreversible. Which functions are the relevant ones? I argue that the answer to this question can be derived neither from a proper understanding of the meaning of the term “death” nor from a proper understanding of the nature of death as a biological phenomenon. The concept of death can (...)
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  • Total Brain Death and the Integration of the Body Required of a Human Being.Patrick Lee - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (3):300-314.
    I develop and refine an argument for the total brain death criterion of death previously advanced by Germain Grisez and me: A human being is essentially a rational animal, and so must have a radical capacity for rational operations. For rational animals, conscious sensation is a pre-requisite for rational operation. But total brain death results in the loss of the radical capacity for conscious sensation, and so also for rational operations. Hence, total brain death constitutes a substantial change—the ceasing to (...)
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  • A Biological Theory of Death: Characterization, Justification, and Implications.Michael Nair-Collins - 2018 - Diametros 55:27-43.
    John P. Lizza has long been a major figure in the scholarly literature on criteria for death. His searching and penetrating critiques of the dominant biological paradigm, and his defense of a theory of death of the person as a psychophysical entity, have both significantly advanced the literature. In this special issue, Lizza reinforces his critiques of a strictly biological approach. In my commentary, I take up Lizza’s challenge regarding a biological concept of death. He is certainly right to point (...)
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  • Determination of Death: A Scientific Perspective on Biological Integration.Maureen L. Condic - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (3):257-278.
    Human life is operationally defined by the onset and cessation of organismal function. At postnatal stages of life, organismal integration critically and uniquely requires a functioning brain. In this article, a distinction is drawn between integrated and coordinated biologic activities. While communication between cells can provide a coordinated biologic response to specific signals, it does not support the integrated function that is characteristic of a living human being. Determining the loss of integrated function can be complicated by medical interventions that (...)
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