About this Project

Fifty years after its inception, the current position on the Neurological Standard for Declaration of Death (NSDD) is subject to a number of persistent concerns and novel criticisms. There remains considerable public confusion both about the meaning of the term “brain dead” and about its relation to the death of a human being. There is persistent dissent by some clinicians, philosophers, and other critical observers who have never been convinced that “brain death” is, indeed, the death of the human being. There are, as well, pressures against insisting that declaring death, or at least “organ donation eligibility,” requires the irreversible loss of function in the whole brain. And, perhaps most important, there are critics who have published evidence of ongoing integrated bodily activities in some patients meeting the criteria of “whole brain death” and who have claimed that this evidence invalidates the rationale for today’s consensus position.  These challenges invite—indeed, necessitate—a reexamination of the neurological standard enshrined in law and medical practice. This research project will undertake such a reexamination.

IMAGE: Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved / DACS, London / ARS, NY 2020.

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