Is ‘Brain Death’ Actually Death?

The Monist 76 (2):175-202 (1993)
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The question ‘What is death?’ is by no means exclusively or primarily a question of medical science. It is, in the last analysis, a philosophical question. The philosopher’s role in the discussion of death is twofold: On the one hand, he has to explore those highly intelligible and essentially necessary aspects of death which no other human science investigates. This task includes a phenomenology of life and death, an ontology and metaphysics, as well as a philosophical anthropology of death. It likewise includes an analysis of the language of death and life and of the logical structure of the arguments used in the debates about life and death. On the other hand the philosopher has to warn representatives of other disciplines against concluding too much from the little they know and extending their methods to areas where they are not appropriate. Careful reflection on both philosophical knowledge and philosophical ignorance concerning death shows, I shall argue, that the definition of death in terms of ‘brain death’ ought to be rejected.



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Josef Maria Seifert
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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