This chapter discusses the criteria for death and organ transplant. The author gives a detailed summary of death categories and the correlated issues. According to the chapter, there are four definitions of mortality: leaving the soul from the flesh, permanent elimination of the cardiovascular pulmonary, entire brain death, and neocortical brain demise (Weijer et al., 2013). The essay writer Traditional Jews and Christians first regarded the soul’s separation from the flesh as demise. Plato became the first prominent philosopher to support this position. When an individual breathes their final breath, their soul, which was thought to be located in the pineal gland and departs their flesh, is deemed dead.
This concept, according to Pojman, has several flaws, one of which is that there is no means of knowing whether or not a soul departs a body. We also have no idea what a soul looks like or if we have more than one in our bodies (Weijer et al., 2013). Another issue with this notion of mortality, which I believe to be the most serious, is that scientific progress has permitted us to keep people breathing with equipment for centuries after their cognitive ability has ended. Does the spirit stay in the flesh until the device is turned off, and synthetic respiration is stopped in that case? There is no measurable data to support this concept, rendering it appear to be only credible through faith rather than factual research.
Pojman also focuses on cardiopulmonary mortality, which occurs when an individual’s lungs and heart cease working, and they die. Cardiopulmonary dying, according to Pojman, is “the termination of daily existence: the stopping to exist; described by doctors as a complete cessation of the flow of the blood, and a stoppage of the biological and vital activities such as breathing, heartbeat, and other essential functions ((Weijer et al., 2013)).” Death is a discrete occurrence that does not happen consistently. This is not true for those who have entered an irreversible coma. These persons, according to Pojman, must not be regarded as living because physical processes do not determine whether an individual is dead or alive. Based on Pojman, staying alive entails being both receptive and self-aware. Furthermore, it is difficult to classify this as mortality since devices can maintain an individual’s lungs and heart working for extended durations of time when they cannot do so alone, such as people in permanent comas.
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When both low and high brain activities have stopped, an individual is said to have died from an entire brain dying. Awareness, speech, and deliberate movement are activities of the upper brain, while involuntary respiration and pupillary responses are activities of the low brain (Weijer et al., 2013). According to the Harvard school of medicine, there are four criteria that a physician can use to determine whether a person is brain dead. First, the individual should not respond to an external trigger, breath, or move without machines, and the individual must also have dilated pupils and should not respond to reflexes of light. The electroencephalogram should be flat, indicating no cerebral functions in the brain.
When high brain activity has halted, this is called neocortical cerebral demise. The superior brain controls cognition, speech, and intentional movement. Essential brain activity, such as heartbeat, uncontrolled respiration, sleep-wake patterns, and non-voluntary movements, are included in this concept of mortality (Weijer et al., 2013). The brain’s neocortex commonly referred to as the top brain, houses activities such as awareness and our ability to interact socially. These capabilities are thought to be critical for human survival, and an individual must be deemed dead if the upper brain is damaged and these capabilities are gone. Additionally, the author does what other philosophers do and applies the neocortical cerebral demise concept to a dog.
Weijer, C., Skelton, A., & Brennan, S. (Eds.). (2013). Bioethics in Canada. Oxford University Press.