Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Don Loeb

Second Advisor

Mark Moyer

Third Advisor

Sally Bliss


death, bioethics, medical ethics, brain death, organ procurement


A philosophical investigation into the definition of "death" and the best criterion for determining that "death" so defined has occurred. This thesis project looks into the three most prominent theories about the best criterion for death determination: the whole-brain criterion, the circulatory-respiratory criterion and the higher-brain criterion. Following a critical analysis of the arguments for and against each criterion and some accounting for special practical issues, especially the need for procurable organs, a recommendation is put forth for a two-pronged public policy that recognizes the important difference between a human being's biological death and the loss of that which is especially important about a human being's life.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.