• Michael Quante
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 126)


In Germany, during the run-up to the passing of the transplantation law in the early 1990s and in the context of actual discussions of ethical problems of transplantation medicine in the last years, a fierce dispute was conducted over so-called “brain death”. Johannes Hoff and Jürgen in der Schmitten, the editors of the anthology “When is the human being dead?”, for example, made it their expressed aim to expose as illusionary the notion that there is a social or scientific consensus about the definition of death. They view the brain death criterion as a new definition of death and fear that for pragmatic reasons the death of a human being is being newly defined for the purpose of maximally effectively winning organs for transplantation. The controversy within this dispute runs between the traditional “cardiovascular death” and the “whole-brain death”. Not as soon as the brain of a human has failed irrevocably, but only when the cardiovascular function has also failed can a human be regarded as dead in the eyes of these critics of the whole brain death criterion.


Brain Death Human Organism Life Process Human Death High Brain Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Quante
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MünsterMünsterGermany

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