Authors
Shai Lavi
The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
Abstract
The introduction of respiratory machines in the 1950s may have saved the lives of many, but it also challenged the notion of death itself. This development endowed “machines” with the power to form a unique ontological creature: a live body with a “dead” brain. While technology may be blamed for complicating things in the first place, it is also called on to solve the resulting quandaries. Indeed, it is not the birth of the “brain-dead” that concerns us most, but rather its association with a web of epistemological and ethical considerations, where technology plays a central role. The brain death debate in Israel introduces highly sophisticated religious thought and authoritative medical expertise. At focus are the religious acceptance and rejection of brain death by a technologically savvy group of rabbis whose religious doctrine––along with a particular form of religious reasoning––is used to support the truth claims made from the scientific community but challenge the ways in which they are made credible. In our case, brain death as “true” death is made religiously viable with the very use of technological apparatus and scientific rhetoric that stand at the heart of the scientific ethos.
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DOI 10.1177/0162243918783477
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On Technical Mediation.Bruno Latour - 1994 - Common Knowledge 3 (2):29-64.

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