J Med Ethics 28:130 doi:10.1136/jme.28.2.130

Brain Death: Philosophical Concepts and Problems

T Russell. Ashgate, 2000, £40.00, pp 183. ISBN 0 7546 1210 4

It is more than thirty years since the Harvard report, A Definition of Irreversible Coma, and twenty-five years since the UK Royal Colleges' criteria for the diagnosis of brain death, Diagnosis of Brain Death, provoked passionate public debate. For many years now, however, the concept has been well accepted by the public, and the practicalities of its use by the medical profession. According to a recent American book, however, some academic philosophers are concerned that the pragmatism of the doctors and the acceptance of the public has led too readily to acceptance of incoherent concepts and they would like to reignite controversy. The present book also argues that current concepts of brain death are conceptually inadequate and claims to present an entirely …

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