By T. Forcht Dagi (auth.), Howard H. Kaufman M.D. (eds.)
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Extra resources for Pediatric Brain Death and Organ/Tissue Retrieval: Medical, Ethical, and Legal Aspects
Plum and Posner (1980) divide consciousness into two parts: one includes arousal, a phasic attentional component of orientation, and wakefulness, a tonic activational component; the other includes intellectual and affective content, including emotion and cognition. In the first use of brain death, neither part functions. In the second model, one might postulate a hierarchy of importance even within consciousness. Someone who is awake but unarousable and devoid of intellectual and emotional content might be treated as if he were dead; by contrast, someone with obvious preservation of content at the expense of wakefulness of arousability might not.
FORCHT DAGI 26 rather than a qualitative difference. This line of reasoning suggests that the mind is a part of the body that holds greater worth, but not qualitatively different worth, than other parts. That this analysis does not hold up is demonstrated by social conventions about competency and the limits of permissible behavior on the part of others. In the case of grievous bodily injury, an individual is allowed to determine what means of treatment he will undergo, as long as he is adjudged mentally competent; the proper functioning of the mind rationalizes decisions that affect the treatment of the body.
Souls, secular soul; SoulR' religious souL FIGURE 22 T. FORCHT DAGI that a human body without a functioning brain is any less human, any less of a person in the modem sense, than a human body with a fully functioning brain. Those who have sought to explain death in purely physiological tcrm~ have considered naturalistic explanations of death-the "scientific" or "medical models"-to be free of adulteration by any supernatural notions of the soul or the spirit. These models, pursued, as we have seen, from the time of Bacon onward, evolved parallel to, and possibly as an outgrowth of, basic principles of rational empiricism: things that could not be measured or proved ought not be invoked as explanations for natural phenomena.