F1000Research 11:195 (2022)
Abstract50 years after its introduction, brain death remains controversial among scholars. The debates focus on one question: is brain death a good criterion for determining death? This question has been answered from various perspectives: medical, metaphysical, ethical, and legal or political. Most authors either defend the criterion as it is, propose some minor or major revisions, or advocate abandoning it and finding better solutions to the problems that brain death was intended to solve when it was introduced. Here I plead for a different approach that has been overlooked in the literature: the philosophy of science approach. Some scholars claim that human death is a matter of fact, a biological phenomenon whose occurrence can be determined empirically, based on science. We should take this claim seriously, whether we agree with it or not. The question is: how do we know that human death is a scientific matter of fact? Taking the philosophy of science approach means, among other things, examining how the determination of human death became an object of scientific inquiry, exploring the nature of the brain death criterion itself, and analysing the meaning of its core concepts such as “irreversibility” and “functions”.
Archival historyArchival date: 2022-07-17
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