Main Article Content
John P. Lizza has long been a major figure in the scholarly literature on criteria for death. His searching and penetrating critiques of the dominant biological paradigm, and his defense of a theory of death of the person as a psychophysical entity, have both significantly advanced the literature. In this special issue, Lizza reinforces his critiques of a strictly biological approach. In my commentary, I take up Lizza’s challenge regarding a biological concept of death. He is certainly right to point out that science is not value-free; however, this does not imply that there cannot be a characterization of biological death that can be shown to be superior to other concepts. After characterizing and justifying such a theory of biological death, I show that patients who meet the diagnostic criteria for brain death are unequivocally biologically alive. However, with respect to concepts of personhood and related ideas (as opposed to biology), I urge the acceptance of a pluralism of such concepts for matters of public policy.
By submitting his/her work to the Editorial Board, the author accepts, upon having his/her text recommended for publication, that Diametros applies the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license to the works we publish. Under this license, authors agree to make articles legally available for reuse, without permission or fees. Anyone may read, download, copy, print, distribute or reuse these articles without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. The author holds the copyright without any other restrictions. Full information about CC-BY: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.
Banfalvi G. (1991), “Evolution of Osmolyte Systems,” Biochemical Education 19 (3): 136–139.
Brock D. (1987), “Truth or consequences: the role of philosophers in policy-making,” Ethics 97 (4): 786–791.
Condic M.L. (2016), “Determination of Death: A Scientific Perspective on Biological Integration,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (3): 257–278.
DeGrazia D. (2005), Human Identity and Bioethics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Hall J.E. (2016), Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology, 13th ed., Elsevier, Philadelphia.
Khan S.S., Singer B.D., Vaughan D.E. (2017), “Molecular and physiological manifestations and measurement of aging in humans,” Aging Cell 16 (4): 624–633.
Lakatos I. (1970), “Falsification and the methodology of research program,” [in:] Crticism and the Growth of Knowledge, I. Lakatos, A. Musgrave (eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Lizza J.P. (2006), Persons, Humanity, and the Definition of Death, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (MD).
Lizza J.P. (2018), “Defining Death: Beyond Biology,” Diametros 55: 1–19.
Lock M. (2004), “Living cadavers and the calculation of death,” Body & Society 10 (2–3): 135–152.
Moschella M. (2016), “Deconstructing the brain disconnection-brain death analogy and clarifying the rationale for the neurological criterion of death,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (3): 279–299.
Nair-Collins M. (2013), “Brain Death, Paternalism, and the Language of ‘Death’,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 23 (1): 53–104.
Nair-Collins M. (2015a), “Taking Science Seriously in the Definition of Death,” Hastings Center Report 45 (6): 38–48.
Nair-Collins M. (2015b), “Laying Futility to Rest,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 40 (5): 554–583.
Nair-Collins M. (2017), “Can the Brain-Dead Be Harmed or Wronged? On the Moral Status of Brain Death and its Implications for Organ Transplantation,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 27 (4): 525–559.
Nair-Collins M., Miller F.G. (2017), “Do the ‘Brain Dead’ Merely Appear to be Alive?” Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (11): 747–753.
Popper K. (1963), Conjectures and Refutations, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.
President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1981), Defining Death: A Report on the Medical, Legal and Ethical Issues in the Determination of Death, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington (DC).
President’s Council on Bioethics (2008), Controversies in the Determination of Death: A White Paper by the President’s Council on Bioethics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington (DC).