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Lecture 3

Thanatology 2200 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Principle Of Double Effect, Organ Donation, Brainstem

Course Code
THAN 2200
Darcy Haris

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Ability to do or act; to have authority to influence another person or organization; to have the
ability to control and have superiority or, to have an advantage over others
Power may be acquired bcuz of possession of knowledge base on aspects of health care, resulting
in prestige and authority being granted to the person
Important to keep in mind that in accessing socially sanctioned health care, a person enters a
system where there is an inherent imbalance of power between those who have knowledge and
those who do not have this knowledge
Paternalism & Beneficence
Concept of paternalism stems from this power differential from the statement “the doctor knows
best”. This phrase is the basis of beneficence
Refers to the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed uncoerced decision
Some will argue that it is nearly impossible for patients to give informed consent, as it is
impossible for there not to be some aspect of inherent coercion in the way treatment options may
be presented, offered etc .
Ethics vs. Morality
Morality assesses human behavior in terms of right/wrong. Good/evil. Usually according to
criteria shared by a cultural or religious group
Ethics provides a systemic process for identifying and analyzing human behavior in terms of what
ought to be done
Ethical dilemma involves making a choice between conflicting values or (sometimes) equally
unsatisfactory alternatives
o Solving a dilemma sometimes demands selecting the “least worst” choice
o Quality of life evaluations are impossible to avoid in palliative care
Basic Ethical Principles:
Respect for lif; “sanctity of life”
Respect for persons “human dignity
Respect for autonomy; “self determination”
Non maleficience; “do no harm
Beneficence; “best interests
Justice “fairness”
Viable options:
The set of viable options must be directed towards an end goal that is realistically achievable.
Viable options include:
o The treatment option
Definitions of Death
Harvard medical school defines death as inferred with the permanent loss of all brain functions
(who brain death), from brainstem to higher cortical functioning
o This definition is also the accepted definition of death by the law reform commission of
o This individual is not considered dead until the entire brain ceases to function. This
definition assumes that condition of the individual is irreversible
Ethical issues with Organ Donation:
find more resources at
find more resources at
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