Finding Consciousness: The Neuroscience, Ethics, and Law of Severe Brain Damage

ISBN : 9780190280307

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
280 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2016
Send mail

Modern medicine enables us to keep many people alive after they have suffered severe brain damage and show no reliable outward signs of consciousness. Many such patients are misdiagnosed as being in a permanent vegetative state when they are actually in a minimally conscious state. This mistake has far-reaching implications for treatment and prognosis. To alleviate this problem, neuroscientists have recently developed new brain-scanning methods for detecting consciousness in some of these patients and even for asking them questions, including "Do you want to stay alive?" These new technological abilities raise many questions about what exactly these methods reveal (Is it really consciousness?), how reliable they are (Do they fail to detect consciousness in some patients who are conscious?), what are these patients' lives like (Do they feel pain?), what we should do for and to these patients (Should we let them die?), who should decide (Are these patients competent to decide for themselves?), and which policies should governments and hospitals enact (Which kinds of treatment should be made available?). All of these questions and more are addressed in this collection of original papers. The prominent contributors provide background information, survey the issues and positions, and take controversial stands from a wide variety of perspectives, including neuroscience and neurology, law and policy, and philosophy and ethics. This collection should interest not only academics but anyone who might suffer brain damage, which includes us all.


1 - Finding Consciousness: An Introduction
By Meghan Brayton and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
2 - Discussion with a Caring Father
By Ken Diviney and Katherine Grichnik
PART I: Consciousness
3 - The Geography of Unconsciousness: From Apparent Death to the Minimally Conscious State
By Jeffrey Baker
4 - Consciousness and Death: The Whole-Brain Formulation of Death
By James L. Bernat
5 - Modes of Consciousness
By Tim Bayne and Jakob Hohwy
PART II: Diagnosis
6 - What is it like to be in a Disorder of Consciousness
By Caroline Schnakers
7 - Decoding Thoughts in Behaviorally Non-Responsive Patients
By Adrian Owen and Lorina Naci
8 - Persistent Vegetative State, Akinetic Mutism, and Consciousness
By Will Davies and Neil Levy
PART III: Ethics
9 - Lay Attitudes to Withdrawal of Treatment in Disorders of Consciousness and Their Normative Significance
By Jacob Gipson, Guy Kahane, and Julian Savulescu
10 - Moral Conflict in the Minimally Conscious State
By Joshua Shepherd
11 - What's Good for Them? Best Interests and Severe Disorders of Consciousness
By Jennifer Hawkins
12 - Minimally Conscious States and Pain: A Different Approach to Patient Ethics
By Valerie Gray Hardcastle
13 - The Legal Circle of Life
By Nita Farahany and Rachel Zacharias
14 - Guardianship and the Injured Brain: Representation and the Rights of Patients and Families
By Joseph Fins and Barbara Pohl

About the author: 

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics at Duke University in the Philosophy Department, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Law School. He has served as co-chair of the Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association http://www.apaonline.org/ and co-director of the MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project http://www.lawandneuroscienceproject.org/. He publishes widely in ethics, moral psychology and neuroscience, philosophy of law, epistemology, informal logic, and philosophy of religion.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.