Life as a Good and Our Obligations to Persistently Vegetative Patients

  • Kevin Wm. Wildes
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 41)


With the development of medical technology it is possible to maintain the life of a patient in a persistent vegetative state for an indefinite period of time. A persistent vegetative state (PVS) is a one of permanent unconsciousness with a loss of all cerebral cortical functions, which leads to complete unawareness of self or of the environment, though there is the persistence of sleep-wake cycles (Executive Board, American Academy of Neurology, 1989, pp. 125-126). There are 15,000–25,000 PVS patients in the United States (AMA Council on Scientific Affairs and Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, p. 427). As the recent discussions about the case of Nancy Cruzan illustrate, such cases raise difficult moral and legal questions for the families of such patients as well as for medical and legal communities and society at large (Cruzan). The ethical, political, and judicial arguments over these cases have raised discussion about the extent of our obligation to treat such patients.


Persistent Vegetative State Common Morality Artificial Feeding Human Good Biological Life 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

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  • Kevin Wm. Wildes

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