Cerebral death

The notion of cerebral death is examined in relation to those of cardiopulmonary and whole-brain death. It is argued that rather than being a new concept of death, it is merely a new criterion that leaves the old concept — death as loss of personhood — intact. The argument begins on a theoretical level with the distinction between criteria and concepts, places both into context with the notion of a conceptual framework in its relation to empirical reality, and then particularizes the result to criteria for the determination of death. It is argued that the suggestion of the cerebral criterion is nothing more than an attempt to realign the concept of death with the empirical data with which it has come out of step due to new developments in the empirical field. The paper considers tutioristic objections to the criterion, and shows its compatibility with dualistic religio-metaphysical positions by considering an actual example. It also addresses briefly the ethical impact of the criterion on medical practice.
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