Bioethics Blogs

New Symposium on Definition of Death

Does the ability of some brain dead bodies to maintain homeostasis with the help
of artificial life support actually imply that those bodies are living human organisms? Or might it be possible that a brain dead body on life support is a mere collection of still-living cells, organs and tissues which can coordinate with one another, but which lack the genuine integration that is the hallmark of a unified human organism as a whole? 

To foster further study of these difficult and timely questions, a Symposium on the Definition of Death was held at The Catholic University of America in June 2014. The Symposium brought together scholars from a variety of disciplines—law, medicine, biology, philosophy and theology—who all share a commitment to the dead donor rule and to a biological definition of death, but who have differing opinions regarding the validity of neurological criteria for human death. 

Papers from the conference were just published in The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy 41(3).

Melissa Moschella
Brain Death and Human Organismal Integration: A Symposium on the Definition of Death

Nikolas T. Nikas, Dorinda C. Bordlee, and Madeline MoreiraDetermination of Death and the Dead Donor Rule: A Survey of the Current Law on Brain Death

Maureen L. Condic
Determination of Death: A Scientific Perspective on Biological Integration

Melissa Moschella
Deconstructing the Brain Disconnection–Brain Death Analogy and Clarifying the Rationale for the Neurological Criterion of Death

Patrick Lee
Total Brain Death and the Integration of the Body Required of a Human Being

Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, OP
The Brain Dead Patient Is Still Sentient: A Further Reply to Patrick Lee and Germain Grisez


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.