Death as an Event: A Commentary on Robert Morison

Science 173:698-702, 1971.


1) We have no need to abandon either the concept of death as an event or the efforts to set forth reasonable criteria for determining that a man has indeed died.

2) We need to recover both an attitude that is more accepting of death and a greater concern for the human needs of the dying patient. But we should not contaminate these concerns with the interests of relatives, potential transplant recipients, or “society.” To do so would be both wrong and dangerous.

3) We should pause to note some of the heavy costs of technological progress in medicine: the dehumanization of the end of life, both for those who die and for those who live on; and the befogging of the minds of intelligent and moral men with respect to the most important human matters.