Brain death as irreversible loss of a human’s moral status

Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 8 (3-4):167-178 (2018)
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Singer claims that there are two ways of challenging the fact that brain-dead patients, from whom organs are usually retrieved, are in fact biologically alive. By means of the first, the so called dead donor rule may be abandoned, opening the way to lethal organ donation. In the second, it might be posited that terms such as “life” and “death” do not have any primary biological meaning and are applicable to persons instead of organisms. This second possibility permits one to acknowledge that brain-dead patients are deceased because they are irreversibly unconscious. In the commentary which follows, I will argue that Singer’s second option is preferable since it provides a higher amount of organs available for transplant, and is better suited to the meaning of “death” which occurs in ordinary language. I will also defend such a concept of death against the objections raised by Michael Nair-Collins in the article Can the brain-dead be harmed or wronged? On the moral status of brain death and its implications for organ transplantation.



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Citations of this work

Different approaches to the relationship of life & death (review of articles).Martin Gluchman - 2019 - Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 9 (1-2):87-97.
Brain death: A response to the commentaries.Peter Singer - 2019 - Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 9 (1-2):81-85.

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References found in this work

The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan & Mary Midgley - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):67-71.
Two distinctions in goodness.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (2):169-195.
Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
The Grounds of Moral Status.Julie Tannenbaum & Agnieszka Jaworska - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:0-0.

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