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Jonathan Breslin

RLG382H1 Death & Dying Lectures Lecture 01 - September 12, 2012 ETHICS: Death and Dying Office Hours: @2pm JH422 Final Paper - Convince reader why your position is right No Tutorials Slides of lectures will be posted September 26 - No Classes What is Death? 2 Major Question 1. What does it mean to say that a person (or any organism) is dead? 2. How do we know when a person is dead? Death as an event vs Death as a process: Event - typically think of it as an event, we can identify the point in time in which can ID a time of Death - Objection? Process - Makes more sense in a sudden death - Internal illness? Maybe harder to ID the point in time in which it happened - Life support? =Artificial life? - Shot in the head = instant BUT Physiologically break down an instant death - did it hap- pen really at that exact second? - Death is a process! - Can ID the beginning and end of the process - Things breaking down in the body and eventually the process finishes but theres not single point in time that you can ID that it happened - Decomposition = death has clearly happened - I.e. Cells die in different order and eventually all dead and then a decomposed person - One can be long dead but cells still existing Declaring Death: - to say process; lead to an impractical bc then youd have to say you have to wait for the decom- position of the body to then move them out of the hospital to be sure death has occurred - THEN - How do we declare a point in time dead when they are not completely dead Definitions: 1. Death: the end of life. The cessation of life. (these common definitions of death ultimately depends on the definition of life ) 2. Death:Aseries of degenerative and destructive changes it he tissues of an organism, persist- ing for years until the skeletal remains have disintegrated, beginning with the failure of certain organ systems during life RLG382H1 Death & Dying Lectures - Problem with these definitions because they confuses death with disintegration. - SLIDE We need 3. Biological/Physiological Concepts The permanent cessation of functioning do the organism as a whole The Function of the organism as a whole means the spontaneous and innate activities carried out by the integration of all or most subsystem, and at least limited response to the environment - When the organism as a whole doesn't function - Intro the notion of integration; the body is complex and everything in interrelated there- fore doesn't seem possible to ID his one point in time. ID when the integrated functions come to an endAND Permanent cession: in order to say something is dead it has to be dead for good with no recovery of those functions. - Resuscitation? Cant be dead if you have the ability to be brought back 4. Meaningful Life A complete change int he status of a living entity characterized by an irreversible loss of those characteristics that are essentially significant to it R. Veatch - Departs from the physiological; something is dead when it no longer is what it is, when something defines it to be what it is. - What it means for the death of a human being than personality What is essential to human-ness? - So we can ID that once that is lost we can ID as dead. - Our capacity to rational or even irrational thought? Once lost, are dead a HUMAN but maybe alive as a body Person in vegetative state - Physically alive but mental not - Alive in any meaningful sense = life vs meaningful life * Human life is lost when irreversibly lost its meaningful life* R. Veatch There are practical reason to ID when someone has died i.e. Wait for someone to be cold and stiff then could be no organ donation? Locked-in Syndrome? - No way of interacting with the outside world; are physically paralyzed but cognitively alive - Veatch: would say are dead Definition of death: - Can depend on the social context - I.e. Technological advances in some countries can keep you alive and others no - Feeding tube; keeping someone alive - Ababy who needs its parents or a fully developed rational being to care for them Does it make sense to have a definition of death if there is access to technology? But should be a definition of death across the board. What all the definitions have in common: RLG382H1 Death & Dying Lectures Notion of complete and irreversible loss in the fundamental nature of the or- ganism 2. How do we know when someone has died? Next Lecture Lecture 2 - September 19, 2012 PHL382H1F Ethics: Death and Dying Sept. 19, 2012 Killing (and related concepts) Jonathan Breslin, PhD Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation Ethics consultant Todays plan Whats wrong with killing? Key distinctions killing vs. letting die intention vs. foresight Whats wrong with killing? 1. Killing is morally wrong because it inflicts harm on the victim 2. Killing is morally wrong because it demonstrates a lack of respect for the victim The harm-based argument 1. Death is bad for a person 2. Killing someone imposes the badness of death on that person (inflicts harm) 3. Inflicting harm on another person is morally wrong Killing is morally wrong Killing harms the victim How is bringing about someones death harmful to that person? What makes death bad for the person who dies? The badness of death Death deprives a person of future goods Death deprives a person of time alive Death frustrates a persons hopes, aspirations, dreams, projects, etc. The (Epicurean) problem What could be bad which could have no bad effects in fact, no effects at all? (Suits, 2001) 1. Astateofaffairsisbadforapersononlyifthe person can experience the badness at some time 2. Death is the end of experience Death can never be bad for a person The badness of death? Death deprives a person of future goods Death deprives a person of time alive Death frustrates a persons hopes, aspirations, dreams, projects, etc. But none of this can be experienced by the dead person! RLG382H1 Death & Dying Lectures Back to the harm-based argument 1. Death is bad for a person (deprivation and such) FALSE 2. Killing someone imposes the badness of death on that person (inflicts harm) 3. Inflicting harm on another person is morally wrong Killing is morally wrong DOESNT FOLLOW One more problem with the harm- based argument Does the wrongness of killing vary with the amount of harm inflicted? e.g., Sue and David are both murdered Sue is 25 and David is 63 or Sue is an author and David is homeless So why do we perceive death as bad? We fear dying, not death itself We are troubled by the very concept of non-existence, or of the world continuing without us We mistakenly assume some kind of awareness after death (influence of religion?) Our inability to separate ourselves from our bodies (Lucretius) So why do we perceive death as bad? We are concerned about the impact of our death on others (e.g., loved ones)... perhaps killing is wrong because it causes harm to others? Wouldnt this imply that killing someone is not wrong if others will not be harmed by the death? Killing is disrespectful Killing a person fails to treat that person as a being of equal moral worth Among the several moral reasons you may have not to kill me...perhaps the most impor- tant lies in the simple fact that I choose, or would choose were I to consider the matter, that you do not (W. Quinn, 1993). Wouldnt this imply that killing is not wrong if the victim is not worthy of such respect? Where does this leave us? We share a common intuition that killing is generally wrong Neither the harm-based view nor the respect- based view provide a sufficient explanation for this intuition Is there another way to explain it, or must we accept that our intuition that killing is wrong is misplaced? Killing in medicine Prohibition against killing remains strong in medicine Other practices of assisted death are morally and legally acceptable Active euthanasia Assisted suicide (mostly) ACCEPTABLE
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