Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):455-481 (2019)

Authors
Daniel Sulmasy
Georgetown University
Abstract
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 affairs, epistemological standards, and clinical criteria for brain death. I outline several candidates for the states of affairs that may constitute death, arguing that we should strive for a single, unified ontological definition of death as a loss of integrated functioning as a unified organism, while acknowledging that two states of affairs may satisfy this concept. I argue that the clinical criteria for determining whole-brain death should be bolstered to meet the epistemic demand of sufficient certainty in defining death by adding indicators of cerebro-somatic dis-integration to the traditional triad of loss of consciousness, loss of brainstem function, and absence of confounding explanations.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11017-019-09504-w
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,021
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Death, Unity and the Brain.David S. Oderberg - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):359-379.
Controversies in defining death: a case for choice.Robert M. Veatch - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):381-401.
Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity.David Wiggins - 1967 - Philosophy 43 (165):298-299.

View all 23 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Brain death: new questions and fresh perspectives.Farr Curlin - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (5):355-358.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Realigning the Neural Paradigm for Death.Denis Larrivee & Michele Farisco - 2019 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 16 (2):259-277.
The Whole-Brain Concept of Death Remains Optimum Public Policy.James L. Bernat - 2006 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 34 (1):35-43.
Aligning the Criterion and Tests for Brain Death.James L. Bernat & Anne L. Dalle Ave - 2019 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 28 (4):635-641.
Death, Brain Death, and Ethics.David Lamb - 1985 - State University of New York Press.
The Problematic Symmetry Between Brain Birth and Brain Death.D. G. Jones - 1998 - Journal of Medical Ethics 24 (4):237-242.
Whither Brain Death?James L. Bernat - 2014 - American Journal of Bioethics 14 (8):3-8.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-11-07

Total views
9 ( #906,828 of 2,433,467 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #217,362 of 2,433,467 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes