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Human death--a view from the beginning of life.

Persson, Ingmar LU (2002) In Bioethics 16(1). p.20-32
Abstract
This paper presents a simple argument against definitions of the death of a human being in terms of death, or the cessation of functioning, of its brain: a human being is alive, and is capable of dying, before it acquires a brain. Although a more accurate definition is sketched, it is stressed that it should not be taken for granted that it is ethically urgent to work out such a definition. What morally matters more than the death of a human being may be something for which its death is sufficient, but not necessary, namely the irreversible loss of its capacity for consciousness. It is when we lose this capacity that we lose our moral standing, as subjects who can be benefited and harmed, and who can have rights. But, as is also suggested,... (More)
This paper presents a simple argument against definitions of the death of a human being in terms of death, or the cessation of functioning, of its brain: a human being is alive, and is capable of dying, before it acquires a brain. Although a more accurate definition is sketched, it is stressed that it should not be taken for granted that it is ethically urgent to work out such a definition. What morally matters more than the death of a human being may be something for which its death is sufficient, but not necessary, namely the irreversible loss of its capacity for consciousness. It is when we lose this capacity that we lose our moral standing, as subjects who can be benefited and harmed, and who can have rights. But, as is also suggested, the loss of this capacity is ill suited to be what the death of a human being definitionally consists of. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Brain Death, Brain Stem, Consciousness, Death, Human, Personhood, Brain
in
Bioethics
volume
16
issue
1
pages
20 - 32
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • pmid:12061382
  • wos:000173633100003
  • scopus:0036165419
ISSN
0269-9702
DOI
10.1111/1467-8519.00265
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b8bf7768-d7df-4699-9c18-3cad99d2e017 (old id 108759)
alternative location
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12061382&dopt=Abstract
date added to LUP
2007-07-26 16:44:27
date last changed
2017-01-01 04:41:38
@article{b8bf7768-d7df-4699-9c18-3cad99d2e017,
  abstract     = {This paper presents a simple argument against definitions of the death of a human being in terms of death, or the cessation of functioning, of its brain: a human being is alive, and is capable of dying, before it acquires a brain. Although a more accurate definition is sketched, it is stressed that it should not be taken for granted that it is ethically urgent to work out such a definition. What morally matters more than the death of a human being may be something for which its death is sufficient, but not necessary, namely the irreversible loss of its capacity for consciousness. It is when we lose this capacity that we lose our moral standing, as subjects who can be benefited and harmed, and who can have rights. But, as is also suggested, the loss of this capacity is ill suited to be what the death of a human being definitionally consists of.},
  author       = {Persson, Ingmar},
  issn         = {0269-9702},
  keyword      = {Brain Death,Brain Stem,Consciousness,Death,Human,Personhood,Brain},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {20--32},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Bioethics},
  title        = {Human death--a view from the beginning of life.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8519.00265},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2002},
}