The article is a critical commentary on Peter Singer’s thesis that the brain death definition should be replaced by a rule outlining the conditions permitting organ harvesting from patients who are biologically alive but are no longer persons. Largely agreeing with the position, I believe it can be justified not only on the basis of utilitarian arguments, but also those based on Kantian ethics and Christianity. However, due to the lack of reliable methods diagnosing complete and irreversible loss of consciousness, we should refrain from implementing upper brain death into medical practice. Organs also should not be harvested from people in a persistent vegetative state or from anencephalic children, for similar reasons. At the same time, patients who suffered from whole-brain death should not be artificially sustained; in light of current knowledge they can be declared dead and become organ donors.
Effective Altruism is a very new discipline. The first steps towards creating a community were made in 2009. Although the movement is young, it has already changed lives of many people and its popularity continues to rise. The idea of effective altruism is deeply rooted in philosophy, hence to understand it better an attempt will be made to reconstruct and present the philosophical framework of Effective Altruism. This part is intended to show the development of utilitarian thought that led to Effective Altruism. I intentionally limited this reconstruction to the views of Peter Singer, as his philosophy inspired many effective altruists, especially at the beginning of the movement. I have tried to show that his earliest works were the first steps on the way to effective altruism. In the second part selected details of the idea will be referred to in order to show the current state of development of this branch of utilitarianism. In the last part, selected doubts and critical remarks will be presented that might be inspiration to adapt Effective Altruism to specific conditions of Central and Eastern Europe. It will be argued that advocacy for Effective Altruism is a fair way for effective altruists in countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
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The present paper focuses on the issue of death from the perspective of ethics of social consequences. To begin with, the paper summarizes Peter Singer’s position on the issue of brain death and on organ procurement related to the definition of death. For better understanding of the issue, an example from real life is used. There are at least three prominent sets of views on what it takes to be called dead. All those views are shortly presented and analysed. Later, the theory of ethics of social consequences is briefly presented. The paper looks for the position of this ethical theory in connection to the issue of death. The issue of organ procurement, which is closely connected to the problem of defining death, is used as a means for a better understanding of the issue. The issue of death is studied through the categories of moral subject and moral object. Using the standpoint of ethics of social consequences enables us to distinguish between the death of a moral agent and the death of the organism. That helps to soften many issues associated with the topic.
In his paper “The challenge of brain death for the sanctity of life ethic”, Peter Singer advocates two options for dealing with death criteria in a way that is compatible with efficient organ transplantation policy. He suggests that we should either (a) redefine death as cortical death or (b) go back to the old cardiopulmonary criterion and scrap the Dead Donor Rule. We welcome Singer’s line of argument but raise some concerns about the practicability of the two alternatives advocated by him. We propose adding a third alternative that also – as the two previous alternatives – preserves and extends the possibility of organ transplantation without using anyone without their consent. Namely, we would like to draw readers’ attention to a proposal by Robert Veatch, formulated 42 years ago in his 1976 book “Death, dying, and the biological revolution” and developed further in his later publications. Veatch argues for a conscience clause for the definition of death that would permit people to pick from a reasonable range of definitional options. This autonomy-based option, we believe, is more likely to be practicable than the two options advocated by Singer. Furthermore, we present data from a study with Lithuanian participants that suggest that there is quite pronounced variation of preferences concerning death determination.
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