Brain-death as an anthropological or as a biological concept

Forensic Sci Int. 1994 Dec 16;69(3):247-9. doi: 10.1016/0379-0738(94)90388-3.


In 1968, when the Harvard Committee defined brain-death to characterize irreversible coma, the question of when a doctor might stop resuscitation remained unresolved: brain-death is a safe, but not a sufficient criterion. Furthermore, the committee defined brain-death to be the death of man without any more than pragmatic reasons. Philosophers tried to give anthropological reasons, as important human functions are located in the brain. But this is misleading, for instance to concepts of partial brain-death. Biologically, however, the death of the whole brain disintegrates the organism and can therefore be accepted as the criterion for death of man.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology
  • Brain Death*
  • Humans