Death for Doctors

Abstract

Philosophers have simplified brain death issues by drawing two distinctions--that between dead persons and dead bodies or organisms, and that between the concept of definition of death and the criteria for determining when and that death has occurred. The result has been protracted debates as to whether the death of patients is the death of persons or the death of organisms, and whether physicians should use cardio-respiratory criteria, whole brain criteria, or higher brain criteria. Advocates of the death of persons prefer higher brain criteria; advocates of the death of organisms prefer cardiovascular criteria; but both will compromise, for different reasons, on the whole brain criteria that most legislators have come to accept. Advocates of person -death regard whole brain criteria as unnecessarily demanding and woefully wasteful of transplantable organs and nursing care. Nonetheless, they accept current whole-brain based legislation as a first neurological step away from traditional cardio-respiratory

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2010-12-22

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William Ruddick
New York University

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