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The Definition of Death


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The editors of this important volume are to be congratulated for bringing together such an authoritative group of eminent scholars to discuss and debate every aspect of one of the most challenging medical, philosophical, legal, and religious problems of our time. Together, they have produced an immensely valuable book that will be quoted for years to come, wherever this debate rages-which is everywhere. -- Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D.Yale University School of Medicine, author of How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter

Table of Contents

List of Contributors
Part I: The Historical and Clinical Framework
Chapter 1. Brain Death in a Cultural Context: The Reconstruction of Death, 1967-1981
Chapter 2. Clinical Standards and Technological Confirmatory Tests in Diagnosing Brain Death
Part II: The Interface Between Philosophy and the Clinic
Chapter 3. How Much of the Brain Must Be Dead?
Chapter 4. Refinements in the Definition and Criterion of Death
Chapter 5. Of the Brainstem Criterion of Death
Chapter 6. The Persisting Perplexities in the Determination of Death
Part III: Revisiting Statues on Brain Death
Chapter 7. The Bifurcated Legal Standard for Determining Death: Does It Work?
Chapter 8. The Conscience Clause: How Much Individual Choice in Defining Death Can Our Society Tolerate?
Chapter 9. The Unimportance of Death
Part IV: Public Attitudes About Brain Death in the United States
Chapter 10. American Attitudes and Beliefs About Brain Death: The Empirical Literature
Chapter 11. Fundamentals of Life and Death: Christian Fundamentalism and Medical Science
Chapter 12. The Definition of Death in Jewish Law
Part V: International Perspectives
Chapter 13. Brain Death, Ethics, and Politics in Denmark
Chapter 14. The Problem of Brain Death: Japanese Disputes About Bodies and Modernity
Chapter 15. Defining Death in Germany: Brain Death and Its Discontents
Part VI: Public Policy Considerations
Chapter 16. Dusk, Dawn, and Defining Death: Legal Classifications and Biological Categories
Chapter 17. The Role of the Public in Public Policy on the Definition of Death
Part VII: The Future of Death
Chapter 18. Death in a Technological and Pluralistic Culture
Chapter 19. Redefining Death: The Mirage of Consensus
Chapter 20. Where Do We Go From Here?

About the Author

Stuart J. Youngner, M.D., is the Susan E. Watson Professor of Bioethics and chairman of the Department of Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University. Robert M. Arnold, M.D., is a professor of medicine, the director of the Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, and the Dr. Leo H. Criep Chair in Patient Care at the University of Pittsburgh. Renie Schapiro, M.P.H., is a consultant to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a freelance writer and editor in Madison, Wisconsin.


A multitude of closely reasoned, well-written essays... required reading. Journal of the American Medical Association This is an excellent book... An engaging and fascinating collection of short articles. British Medical Journal The authors recognize in their analyses that the definition of death is as much a social or value construct as a scientific one. Ethics, Law, and Aging Review This book is an excellent compilation of articles stating the present position in relation to brain death and clearly demonstrates the ethical dilemmas surrounding the concept of death and its determination in practice. It can be wholeheartedly recommended to those interested in brain death from almost any perspective. Journal of Medical Ethics

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