The Nature of Human Death
DeGrazia (David)
Source: Luper - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death, 2014, Chapter 5
Paper - Abstract

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Editor’s Introduction1

  1. Chapter 5 concerns the question: what is it for a human being to die?
  2. David DeGrazia discusses the strengths and weaknesses of three standards for determining when death occurs:
    1. first, the whole-brain standard, which says that death occurs when the entire brain irreversibly ceases to function;
    2. second, the traditional cardiopulmonary standard, according to which death occurs when the heart and lungs irreversibly cease to function; and
    3. third, the higher-brain standard, which says that death is the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness.
  3. He criticizes the last, mostly on the grounds that it rests on an implausible account of personal identity, and while he defends an updated version of the cardiopulmonary standard, he eventually concludes that, for practical reasons, the best policy is much like the one that is already in place in the USA, namely the standard that consists in the disjunction of the (updated) cardiopulmonary standard and the whole-brain standard.
  4. At the end of his chapter he suggests that some of the things that are now done only posthumously should be done sooner: in some cases, people who are irreversibly unconscious should be allowed to die and vital organs should be removed for transplantation2.


Book Chapter, but pdf downloaded from Cambridge Core. Filed in zip with full book.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Luper (Steven) - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death: Introduction".

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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