Bioethics Blogs

Founding Father Thomas Paine on Medical Futility and Brain Death

Thomas Paine wrote The American Crisis during the American Revolution,  in 1778.  But he makes an interesting observation about medical futility:

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason . . . is like administering medicine to the dead . . . .”

This was, like much of Paine’s writing, powerful rhetoric in 1778.  But the metaphor does not seem quite as cogent, today.  Many have advanced strong arguments that administering medicine to “the dead” may have some value.  “Death” in 2016 is a far fuzzier concept in 2016 than it was in 1778.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.