Conclusion

The movement toward a modern legal formulation of the bases for pronouncing death has not been completed, and it is not clear that a complete consensus is possible (Younger, Arnold, and Shapiro, 1999). In some societies, that task may be left to the medical profession, since the problems faced in medical practice provide the impetus for change. Tradition as well as sound policy suggests, however, that the ground rules for decisions about individual patients should be established by public authorities. Whether the new legal definition of death emerges from the resolution of court cases or from the legislative process, it will be greatly influenced by opinion from the medical community. Recognition that the standards for determining death are matters of social and not merely professional concern only serves to underline the education of the public on this subject as an important ethical obligation of the profession.

ALEXANDER MORGAN CAPRON (1 995) REVISED BY AUTHOR

SEE ALSO: Body: Cultural and Religious Perspectives; Consensus, Role and Authority of; Judaism, Bioethics in; Law and Bioethics; Law and Morality; Life; Metaphor and Analogy; Organ and Tissue Procurement; Public Policy and Bioethics; and other Death, Definition and Determination ofsubentries

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