This article offers a philosophical foundation for the Uniform Determination of Death Act as it first examines death per se, and then examines brain death and the non-heart beating donor criteria for determining death. The author suggests that many of the debates over death can be bypassed by changing the terms of the debate: what matters is not whether death is a process or an event, but death as a state. Understanding death as a state allows us to determine death in a functional manner that is compatible with the needs of law and medicine. The second part examines objections that arise from ignoring or rejecting the distinction between killing and letting die and the principle of double effect. By clarifying the lines between life and death, on the one hand, and between intentionally killing and unintentionally hastening death, on the other, the author hopes to restore a sense that the proposals to drop the dead donor rule are radical recommendations to cross lines we have never crossed before.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-41
Number of pages21
JournalIssues in Law and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2002


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