Brain Death and Peter Singer

John Finnis

in Intention and Identity

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580064
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729386 | DOI:
Brain Death and Peter Singer

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This chapter offers a response to a 1998 paper by Peter Singer and it focuses on discussion in 1979 by Grisez and Boyle of the theoretical, factual, and operational definition or criteria of death. That discussion is a model of conceptual (philosophical) clarification, and was mangled in Singer's account of it. But against their factual and operational conclusions linking brain death with loss of integrated organic functioning (the ‘theoretical’ definition of death), the chapter adduces work by Alan Shewmon giving clinical grounds for doubting the necessity or invariable reality of that link. Along the way, dualism of the kind embraced by Jeff McMahan is critiqued, as is Singer's ethic. A last-minute endnote cites Grisez's recent reply to Shewmon.

Keywords: Singer; brain death; Shewmon; integrated organic functioning; definitions of death; Jeff McMahan; dualism

Chapter.  5374 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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