Jeremy Bentham and the Patient in Room 326
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 1993 Spring; 2(2): 142-145.
...When we look at the patient, Norman Quayle, in room 326, who is in a persistent vegetative state, we see a part of the body of a man whose chest is heaving, whose eyes sometimes tear, and who, at other times, appears to be smiling. We might mistakenly believe from what we observe that Quayle will wake up and speak to us. But an informed understanding of Quayle's condition tells us that although he has cycles of sleeping and waking, he will never speak to us because he has lost all conscious awareness. Nevertheless, Quayle is alive. His functioning brain stem controls his respiration, his eyes respond to light, he can gag and cough, and if food is put at the back of his throat, he may be able to swallow it. But, he does lack all awareness of himself or of the external world. In this respect he is exactly like Bentham who is no more than an arrangement of bones topped by a replica of a head....
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