What Does a Definition of Death Do?

Main Article Content

Laura Specker Sullivan

Abstract

In his article, “Defining Death: Beyond Biology,” John Lizza argues in favor of a civil definition of death, according to which the potential for consciousness and social interaction marks us as the “kind of being that we are.” In this commentary, I critically discuss this approach to the bioethical debate on the definition of death. I question whether Lizza’s account is based on a full recognition of the “practical, moral, religious, philosophical, and cultural considerations” at play in this debate. I further propose that a truly ethical debate on definitions of death ought to concentrate on how different definitions of death are used in diverse contexts – what definitions of death do – and focus less on who has the right definition of death for all situations.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Sullivan, Laura Specker. 2018. “What Does a Definition of Death Do?”. Diametros 55 (55), 63-67. https://doi.org/10.13153/diam.1176.
Section
Special Topic – Defining Death: Beyond Biology
Author Biography

Laura Specker Sullivan, Harvard Medical School

Laura Specker Sullivan, PhD
Center for Bioethics
Harvard Medical School
641 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

E-mail: Laura_SpeckerSullivan@hms.harvard.edu

Share |

References

Chiong W. (2005), “Brain Death Without Definitions,” Hastings Center Report 35 (6): 25–30.
View in Google Scholar

Elliott C. (1999), A Philosophical Disease: Bioethics, Culture, and Identity, Routledge, New York.
View in Google Scholar

Lizza J.P. (2018), “Defining Death: Beyond Biology,” Diametros 55: 1–19.
View in Google Scholar

Lock M. (2002), Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death, University of California Press, Berkeley.
View in Google Scholar

McMahan J. (2006), “An Alternative to Brain Death,” Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 34 (1): 44–48.
View in Google Scholar

Truog R., Miller F. (2014), “Changing the Conversation about Brain Death,” The American Journal of Bioethics 14 (8): 9–14.
View in Google Scholar

Truog R. (2006), “Brain Death – Too Flawed to Endure, to Ingrained to Abandon,” Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 35 (2): 273–281.
View in Google Scholar