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Do the 'brain dead' merely appear to be alive?

Title: Do the 'brain dead' merely appear to be alive?.
Name(s): Nair-Collins, Michael, author
Miller, Franklin G, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Journal Article
Date Issued: 2017-11-01
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The established view regarding 'brain death' in medicine and medical ethics is that patients determined to be dead by neurological criteria are dead in terms of a biological conception of death, not a philosophical conception of personhood, a social construction or a legal fiction. Although such individuals show apparent signs of being alive, in reality they are (biologically) dead, though this reality is masked by the intervention of medical technology. In this article, we argue that an appeal to the distinction between appearance and reality fails in defending the view that the 'brain dead' are dead. Specifically, this view relies on an inaccurate and overly simplistic account of the role of medical technology in the physiology of a 'brain dead' patient. We conclude by offering an explanation of why the conventional view on 'brain death', though mistaken, continues to be endorsed in light of its connection to organ transplantation and the dead donor rule.
Identifier: FSU_pmch_28848063 (IID), 10.1136/medethics-2016-103867 (DOI), PMC5749302 (PMCID), 28848063 (RID), 28848063 (EID), medethics-2016-103867 (PII)
Keywords: Death, Definition/determination of death
Publication Note: This NIH-funded author manuscript originally appeared in PubMed Central at
Subject(s): Attitude to Death
Brain Death
Ethics, Medical
Organ Transplantation/ethics
Public Policy
Tissue Donors
Tissue and Organ Procurement/ethics
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: Journal of medical ethics.
Issue: iss. 11, vol. 43

Choose the citation style.
Nair-Collins, M., & Miller, F. G. (2017). Do the 'brain dead' merely appear to be alive? Journal Of Medical Ethics. Retrieved from