Brain Death and Brain Life: Rethinking the Connection
Bioethics. 1990 Jul; 4(3): 216-226.
The connection between brain life and brain death is neither as simple nor as defensible as it might at first appear. The problem rests with the two dominant competing definitions of death:...the loss of that which is necessary for the organism to continue to function as a whole;....the loss of that which is essentially significant to the nature of the organism...If death is understood as the loss of that which is necessary for the continued functioning of the organism as whole, then the apparent symmetry breaks down. If...death could be understood as the loss of that which is essentially significant to the nature of the organism....consciousness, then the symmetry would hold. However, that definition of death is indefensible. Therefore...statements about the status of anencephalic infants and early human embryos based upon a connection between brain death and brain life are unfounded.
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