Death, brain death, and the limits of science: why the whole-brain concept of death is a flawed public policy

J Law Med Ethics. 2010 Fall;38(3):667-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2010.00520.x.


Legally defining "death" in terms of brain death unacceptably obscures a value judgment that not all reasonable people would accept. This is disingenuous, and it results in serious moral flaws in the medical practices surrounding organ donation. Public policy that relies on the whole-brain concept of death is therefore morally flawed and in need of revision.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death / diagnosis*
  • Brain Death / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Informed Consent / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Public Policy*
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States