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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Philosophical items, post Terri Schiavo.

A couple of interesting entries that connect to the Terri Schiavo case in different ways.

Andrew at Universal Acid tries to work out why our dying wishes -- and especially, our wishes for what happens after we are dead or otherwise bereft of awareness -- matter to us.

Lucretius would say, you want to dance a jig on my grave? Why should I care? Once I'm dead there's no "me" left to take offense. But most of us don't react this way. Andrew discusses why this could be.

Chris at Mixing Memory discusses "higher brain death" as a criterion for when someone is really dead.

The distinction Chris is working on is one between bodies that still count as persons and bodies where the person has died (because of the cessation of higher brain function). He suggest that there's more to personhood (and the ethical constraints that come with it) than just having a heart that pumps blood or nerves that transmit signals.

This distinction might leave us in an awkward position with respect to certain disabled persons (even some not as badly impaired as Terri Shiavo was) ... which is why I find myself returning to Peter Singer's construction of personhood (at least as I read him) a little bit easier to swallow.

Thanks to Inessentialism.org's Philosophers' Carnival for bringing these entries to my attention.
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