“The Irreversibility of Death: Metaphysical, Physiological, Medical or Ethical?” is a chapter by Tom Tomlinson, PhD, in the new book Potentiality: Metaphysical and Bioethical Dimensions, edited by John P. Lizza.
Dr. Tomlinson poses several questions in this chapter. When removing a terminally ill person from a ventilator, when can they be declared dead for the purposes of removing their vital organs for transplantation? Immediately after their heart stops? Ten minutes later? If we wait too long the organs will be less viable. If we declare them dead quickly, are we sacrificing a live person to save others. In this chapter, Dr. Tomlinson argues that an earlier declaration of death is ethically acceptable.
Related reading: A Brain Dead Little Girl Raises Some Big Questions