Defining Death: A Christian Perspective on the Limitations and Implications of Brain Death




Stull, Micah

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The redefinition of death in the 1960s from the cardiopulmonary definition to the whole brain definition is cause for careful ethical analysis by Christian philosophers. Brain death is a modern byproduct of the invention of the ventilator that allows patients who have irreversible loss of total brain functioning to be declared “dead” and to donate their vital organs regardless of whether their heartbeat has ceased. In this thesis, I defend the cardiopulmonary definition of death while evaluating the efficacy of the brain death definition of death. I do this by examining how different cases, such as the Jahi McMath case, fit into the pre-established necessary and sufficient conditions for death. As Christians hold humans to be integrated beings comprised of the body and the soul, I argue that one cannot conclude from brain death that the soul has departed from the body.