J Med Ethics 9:32-37 doi:10.1136/jme.9.1.32
  • Research Article

Whole-brain death reconsidered--physiological facts and philosophy.


Four main areas generating confusion in discussion on brain death are identified as a) the relation of criteria of death to concepts of death, b) the argument about whether death is an event or a process, c) the inadequate differentiation of different neurological entities having different cardiac prognoses, and d) insufficient awareness of the separate issues of 'determining death' and 'allowing to die'. It is argued that if by death we mean the dissolution of the human 'organism as a whole', then whole-brain death is death. Behavioural patterns, legitimate in the presence of a cadaver, should be legitimate from the time whole-brain death is diagnosed.