C-lab meeting - The Death of an Organism vs. Death as an Irreversible Loss of a Human’s Moral Status

We would like to invite you on the next C-lab meeting on Monday, 29th of April at 13:15 in the room 4.01. The invited speaker is Piotr Grzegorz Nowak with the presentation titled “The Death of an Organism vs.Death as an Irreversible Loss of a Human’s Moral Status”. The abstract of the presentation is below.

The Death of an Organism vs. Death as an Irreversible Loss of a Human’s Moral Status

According to the current status quo in official documents, brain death might be equated with the death of a human being because it is the death of an organism. However, empirical evidence collected by Allan Shewmon clearly shows that brain-dead bodies under artificial support are capable of the maintenance of many functions that are essential for living organisms, so they cannot be perceived as biologically dead. Shewmon’s findings argue for changes in healthcare policies related to end-of-life care at ICU’s. One option is to reexamine the biological concept of death underling the current neurological standard for the determination of death. In this paper, I argue for substituting it with moral one which is based on the notion of the irreversible loss of a human’s moral status. I defend such a concept against a popular argument according to which the moral concept of death is too nebulous to constitute a firm basis for healthcare policy. I show that the dominant biological view of death is no better in this respect. This is because its main thesis, according to which all living organisms die equally, makes use of the concept of an organism that is no more unified in modern biology than the concept of moral status or the concept of a person in modern ethics. Moreover, the moral concept of death is more appropriate since it directly address our main practical concerns associated with the determination of death, namely that the dead themselves, in contrast to the living, cannot be helped, harmed or wronged in any way.