Death as the Cessation of an Organism and the Moral Status Alternative

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 48 (5):504-518 (2023)
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Abstract

The mainstream concept of death—the biological one—identifies death with the cessation of an organism. In this article, I challenge the mainstream position, showing that there is no single well-established concept of an organism and no universal concept of death in biological terms. Moreover, some of the biological views on death, if applied in the context of bedside decisions, might imply unacceptable consequences. I argue the moral concept of death—one similar to that of Robert Veatch—overcomes such difficulties. The moral view identifies death with the irreversible cessation of a patient’s moral status, that is, a state when she can no longer be harmed or wronged. The death of a patient takes place when she is no longer capable of regaining her consciousness. In this regard, the proposal elaborated herein resembles that of Veatch yet differs from Veatch’s original project since it is universal. In essence, it is applicable in the case of other living beings such as animals and plants, provided that they have some moral status.

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Citations of this work

“Death” and Its Discontents.Nicholas Sparks - 2023 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 48 (5):413-421.

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References found in this work

Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
Were You a Part of Your Mother?Elselijn Kingma - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):609-646.
The Constitution of Selves.Christopher Williams & Marya Schechtman - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (4):641.

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