J Med Ethics 21:205-208 doi:10.1136/jme.21.4.205
  • Research Article

The proof of the vegetable: a commentary on medical futility.

  1. C Borthwick
  1. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Australia.


      Patients with 'persistent vegetative state' (PVS) are often cited in the discussions of ethicists as examples of human beings who are unconscious and do not experience life, and a number of theoretical and practical recommendations have been made on that basis. This article examines the evidence and the theoretical rationale for the belief that people with PVS are unconscious and finds them wanting. This conclusion is related to the practice of the discipline of ethics.