Arthur Caplan, PhD – The Ethics of Brain Death: The End of Life, the State, and the Religious Right

January 14, 2014

This week Point of Inquiry is discussing death, specifically, brain death and the efforts of some sectors of the Religious Right to eliminate whole-brain brain death as the legal standard for death in America.

Lindsay Beyerstein welcomes the head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, Arthur Caplan, PhD.

Dr. Caplan is the author of 32 books and over 600 papers on bioethics as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Centering on the high-profile cases of Jahi McMath and Marlise Munoz, in which brain dead bodies are being kept “alive” by machines long after total irreversible loss of brain function, Beyerstein and Caplan discuss the idea of brain death in general and what keeping a corpse “alive” on machines really entails.

What can you do to avoid putting your family through an ordeal like this if you were to end up brain dead? The unreasonable fear of organ thieves, which seems to creep into this discussion whenever it comes up, is discussed for any still afraid of that fate.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

High School Bioethics